By Johnny Walker
This coming Saturday will be a momentous occasion for both Polish heavyweight boxers and their fans: veteran Tomasz Adamek will be making his comeback in Brooklyn, following the severe beating he suffered at the hands of WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko in Poland last year. Adamek, this time out fighting a journeyman in Nagy Aguilera, has seen his career since moving up from cruiserweight posing as many questions as answers — how the veteran looks on Saturday night will go a long way toward determining his future in the sport.
But while Adamek is the biggest name currently operating in Polish boxing, the likely future of Polish heavyweights will be on display this Saturday not in Brooklyn, but at the Resorts Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, where both Mariusz “The Viking” Wach and Artur “The Pin” Szpilka will attempt to further make their way up the heavyweight boxing mountain toward that fearsome summit spelled “KLITSCHKO” (as in world champions Vitali and Wladimir).
Szpilka (9-0, 7 KOs), only 22, is one of the more exciting young heavyweights to arrive on the scene in quite some time. A lefty possessed of both power and speed, Szpilka also possesses a great flair for entertainment. Usually accompanied by sexy stippers scantily clad as policewomen, “The Pin” makes his way to the ring in an orange prison jumpsuit, a nod to a stint in a Polish jail for soccer hooliganism. Polish rappers also herald the entrance of boxing’s newest bad boy:
Once the fight begins, the shaven-headed, tattooed Pole is all-action: his bouts to this point in time have have unfolded with Mike Tyson-like brevity.
“The Pin” will attempt to puncture the balloon of Terrance Marbra (6-1-1, 5 KO’s), who hails from St. Petersburg, Florida, on Saturday’s late afternoon card, and continue his steady rise up the heavyweight ranks.
“He has a lot of potential,” heavyweight veteran Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, also a keen observer and analyst of the sweet science, tells Boxing Insider of Szpilka, whom he has sparred with in the past.
“He’s kind of green – but he’s very strong, and he has great fundamentals. He throws straight punches, you know? His best assets are he’s young, he’s been in jail before and he has that tough interior. He seems mentally focused. As long as they move him the right way, he’s going to be in a good position to make
some money. I like the kid, honestly.”
Szpilka’s Polish counterpart Mariusz “The Viking” Wach (26-0, 14 KOs) hasn’t quite got youth on his side at age 32, but he hasn’t been through a lot of ring wars, either, and therefore is still young in “boxing years.” The lantern-jawed 6’8” Pole scored one of the knockouts of 2011 when he delivered a crushing right hand to the skull of veteran Kevin McBride in round four: McBride had taken Tomasz Adamek the distance in his previous fight.
In his last fight, Wach prevailed over the always rugged Jason Gavern–who took the bout on short notice as a replacement for Oliver McCall— via a 6th round TKO.
“As you said, I took this fight on 2 days’ notice,” Gavern tells Boxing Insider.
“And when I finally got there I had probably one of the worst trips I have ever been to. Very unprofessional and unorganized. Anyways, I strongly feel that if Wach and I had the same amount of time to train to fight each other, the outcome of the fight would have been much different. Not saying I would beat him, but it would definitely have been more entertaining.
“Wach is pretty good. He uses his range and his jab very well. He has no power at all. That might give him problems as he steps up with the bigger boys. He’s got good people behind him and they are keeping him busy, so that is good for him. I wish him luck in his career.”
Monte Barrett, who destroyed Wach’s upcoming opponent, Tye “Big Sky” Fields (49-4, 44 KOs), via a 1st round KO back in 2008, takes a slightly different view of Wach, especially regarding his power.
“Wach is good, but I just think they’re training him the wrong way,” says Barrett. “He’s giving up a lot of his height in training, they’re teaching him how to bob and weave, and I think they should take a page out of the Klitschko book, his trainer, and have him always fighting tall.
“He’s too tall to be bobbing and weaving. But he has a lot of potential. Me and Wach boxed a long time ago, in 2008. Probably about 8 rounds. I was getting ready for Tye Fields. [Wach] has good power – I remember he had a good, very decent right hand. Like Szpilka, he’s a little green, but he’s definitely being moved the right way.
“This kid lives in the gym, he lives in training camp,” Barrett enthuses of Wach, who spends much of the year in his training camp home away from home in New Jersey. “That’s a definite advantage, waking up, looking at the bags, looking at the ring all the time. It just becomes part of your life, a way of life.”
As he did with McBride, Wach will once again this Saturday battle a man in the 6’8” Tye Fields who is as big or bigger than him. Should he once again prevail in spectacular fashion, “The Viking” should see his stock in the lucrative “Klitschko Sweepstakes” continue to rise, with a title shot becoming a very real possibility.
“Every fight is bringing me closer to achieving my dream of becoming a world champion,” Wach said recently, “but I try not to think about that when I’m in camp.
“Then, the moment I step into the ring, I tune everything out. It’s just me and the other fighter – nothing else matters.”