By Johnny Walker
Rising young Polish heavyweight Artur “The Pin” Szpilka stepped up in class today and found the going a little rougher than usual against game American veteran Jameel McCline at the Atlas Arena in Lodz, Poland.
With the 6’ 6” tall McCline coming forward and pressing the action, the smaller southpaw Szpilka chose to fight a tactical match, bobbing and weaving and circling constantly, often on the back foot, jumping in with some sharp left hooks and right hand leads when he saw an opening.
At 42 years of age, it took McCline a little while to get his big body moving, but by the middle rounds he was becoming more effective, and in the last minute of round six he caught Szpilka flush with a big right hand. Szpilka–who later said the shot cracked his jaw in two places–showed a good chin and recovered quickly, but the fight’s momentum had slipped away from him.
Szpilka then rallied over the last four rounds, landing some nice combinations. A flurry by the Pole near the end of the final stanza had McCline in some difficulty, staggering around the ring.
The judges scored the fight 98-93, 98-94 and 97-94 for Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs), who didn’t live up to his reputation for blowing opponents away, but who gained valuable experience against a much larger opponent who has been in with some of the bigger names in the heavyweight division.
“We trained to walk him down, but he held it together like the young champion he is,” McCline (41-12-3, 24 KOs) said of his opponent after the verdict was read.
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