By Jackie Kallen
Everyone loves the big boys and now that Klitscho’s reign hit a bump in the road, the division is more open and exciting. Saturday night at the Barclays Center, on Showtime, Deontay Wilder puts his WBC belt on the line against game Artur Szpilka from Poland.
For a guy who didn’t start boxing until he was 20, Wilder has accomplished a lot. From Alabama, he only had a few amateur fights before turning pro in 2008. He’s 35-0 and after taking the belt from Bermane Stiverne last January, he has defended it twice. Neither opponent was a household name, but they added two wins to his record.
Having knocked out 97% of his opponents, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with. At 6’7”, with a killer punch, he is the man to look out for in the heavyweight ranks. Klitschko is still up there along with Tyson Fury (the guy who beat him) and Russian Alexander Povetkin. Some put Bryant Jennings on the list along with Cuban Luis Ortiz. Wilder is going to have to beat Szpilka and look good to keep his stock rising.
Twenty-six year-old Szpilka is a southpaw who has KOed 16 out of his 20 wins. He also has a heavy hand. But is he is skilled as Wilder? That will be seen. He did beat Tomasz Adamek in November 2014 and has beaten three other guys since. He is also buoyed by the fact that this is the first heavyweight title fight in Brooklyn since 1900.
Of course the money is on Wilder. But the serious fans are wondering how strong Wilder’s chin is. Szpilka can punch and Wilder hasn’t ever really been tested. If and when he puts Szpilka away, his mandatory will be against Povetkin, who is 30-1 with 22 Kos.
I love the fact that promoter Lou DiBella put a female featherweight title fight on the undercard. 26-1-1 Amanda Serrano will be facing 12-3-1 Helen Joseph for the WBO World Female Featherweight belt. As the former commissioner of the IBFA, another female organization, it always makes me happy to see the women getting their due.
Amanda is a hometown favorite and is 26 years old. Her opponent, also 26, is from Ghana. Amanda’s record is 26-1- and Helen’s is 12-3-1. On paper, it looks like a win for Serrano. A huge Puerto Rican entourage will be supporting her and Joseph has only fought in America once before, losing to Jennifer Han in Texas a few months ago.
The rest of the undercard looks interesting as well so it should be a good night of boxing.
Press Conf Quotes:
“I’m so happy to be here in the ‘Big Apple.’ It’s been over 115 years since there’s been a heavyweight title fight in Brooklyn and you’ve invited your ‘country friend’ to end that streak.
“Everything has happened at the right time in my life. Even the people I’ve met in my career have come at the right time. I still think about the first time I met Lennox Lewis and he took the time out to talk to me and he showed me different techniques. I’ll never forget.
“Lennox was one of those guys that set the standard. He’s a hard act to follow. But I love a challenge. Everybody has had struggles coming up. Now my children are my motivation and that’s what has made me strong physically and mentally.
“Here we are in 2016, with a young champion trying to follow in the footsteps of a great champion to become undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.
“People who know me know that if I say I’m going to do something, I’m doing it. I am hungry. I am determined. I’m not playing with anybody in 2016. I don’t say things just to sound good. My actions will speak for themselves.
“This is a great card. Two heavyweight title fights in one night. It doesn’t get much better than that. The heavyweight division is exciting again. Having someone like me, it’s only going to get better.
“I take pride in what I do and what I have. I’m very honored to have the WBC belt. I even have the belt tattooed on my body. It’s not going anywhere. But there are more belts that I want. It’s going to be a long journey and a tough path to fulfill. But I’m that man.
“When people say the heavyweight champion of the world, I want one person to be recognized. I wish my opponent and all future opponents good luck, cause they’re going to need it.
“We’re not looking past Artur Szpilka. Things happen due to adrenaline and excitement, but I’m very confident about what I’m going to do on Saturday night. He wants to be the first Polish heavyweight champion of the world. You know he’s coming to make history.
“This is going to be a hard fight, but a fun fight. Everyone who sees this fight, they’re going to get their money’s worth. It’s going to be a great show. I cannot wait. Waiting is the hardest part of boxing.”
“I’m so happy to fight in front of so many great Polish fans. I want to be the first Polish heavyweight champion of the world. I want to do it.
“There’s no pressure on me. The pressure is on Deontay because I just want to be a world champion, he already is.
“I’m not just here to get my paycheck. Everyone who knows me, knows I come to fight. I don’t just want to win; I want to win in spectacular fashion.
“I have a bunch of friends coming in from Chicago but the next 48 hours will be mostly relaxing. I have a couple small training sessions with Ronnie (Shields) but that’s it.
“I know you have to have a great respect for your opponent and I used to have respect for him. But after what he has said about me, I have a problem. You have to prove it in the ring. He has to do it in the ring, not outside the ring. He can say whatever he wants, but we will see it in the ring.
“I will fight hard and after the fight you will hear ‘The New Heavyweight Champion of the World.’ ”