By Johnny Walker
He’s relatively inexperienced.
Well, two out of three ain’t bad, as Meatloaf once said.
This Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, Polish giant Mariusz “The Viking” Wach (24-0, 12 KO), takes on veteran heavyweight Kevin McBride (35-9-1, 24 KO) in a battle of two of the division’s bigger men. With two other possible future opponents for world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, Cris Arreola and Tyson Fury, looking elsewhere for their next fights, the stakes for Wach in particular are high, as a shot at Wlad, or alternately his brother, WBC heavyweight champion Vitali, may not be far away if the Pole can stop McBride in spectacular fashion.
Many of the detractors of the Klitschko brothers like to fall back (erroneously) on the notion that the brothers are so dominant because of their sheer size alone (that must explain why Tye Fields and Michael Grant have been such great heavyweight champions–not). The attraction of a Wach-Wlad matchup, of course, is to see a Klitschko in the ring with a guy who can match him in the size department – and Wach actually stands a couple of inches taller than Wlad at 6’8″. Although Wlad has beaten fighters roughly the same size as him before (Ray Austin, for one), perhaps he needs to prove the point once again that size without talent just makes you a big loser.
As for Wach, the jury is still out on the talent part. He’s unbeaten, and a quick search on YouTube shows him scoring a vicious KO over recent opponent Christian Hammer. But even the amiable journeyman McBride, who recently went twelve rounds with Vitali Klitschko’s next opponent–Wach’s fellow Pole Tomasz Adamek–is a big step up in opposition for the 31-year-old.
“I’ve spoken with the Klitschko brothers promotional team in Germany, and they told me that they are very interested in facing Wach,” Wach’s promoter Mariusz Kolodziej told Boxing Buzz Media recently.
“Wach presents them the opportunity to show that they are not just bullies picking on smaller opponents, and the Klitschkos present Wach the chance to show the world the true warrior that he is.”
As for Wach himself, while he knows McBride is the next problem to solve, he can’t help but daydream about the possibility of meeting either of the Ukrainian rulers of the heavyweight division, should he succeed on Friday night.
“I am very focused on my next fight with McBride, but it gives me greater motivation knowing that I may face one of the Klitschkos in the following fight,” Wach says. “I must first get through McBride, but after that, I’m ready for either brother.”
Of course, we’ve heard all of that before. Everybody is ready for the Klitschkos until they actually get in the ring with them.
But as least Wach seems ready to test himself.
As for McBride, who is still best known for ending the career of a shot Mike Tyson, he is big, heavy, plodding, slow, and tough. Adamek outgunned him for twelve rounds (though McBride did knock Adamek on his backside and not get credit for it), but never really hurt the massive 6’6” Irishman.
McBride knows what Wach desires, and he would love to spoil the party.
“I’m here to win,” McBride contends.
“God bless him – he’s undefeated and he has 24 wins, but I’m the champ. I’ve got more knockouts than he has wins.”
Will Wach prove to be a worthy contender, or just another flash in the pan?
Can Kevin McBride actually force his way back into the heavyweight picture — in these times, one stellar outing could do the trick.
Friday night’s fight should help further clarify the heavyweight picture.