Mariusz Wach and Artur Szpilka: Rising Polish Heavyweights Ready to Rumble This Saturday
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.”
Tyson Fury, Stand-Up Comic?
Rising heavyweight contender Tyson Fury of the UK tries his hand at stand-up comedy for a charity event.
Power Shots: James “Lights Out” Toney and Tyson Fury Keep Talking
By Johnny Walker
[This is the first of what will be a regular feature of news tidbits and opinion focusing on the most abused – often unjustly, in this writer’s opinion – division in the sport of boxing]
Two true heavyweights when it comes to the art of flapping the gums have been at it again this week: veteran trash talker James “Lights Out” Toney and relative newbie Tyson Fury.
The always irascible Toney will be back in action on April 7 against bare knuckles fighting champion Bobby Gunn, who currently hails from New Jersey, but whose frequent use of the interrogative “eh?” marks him as a native Canadian.
Over the past few years, it has become more and more surreal reading Toney’s bombastic interviews in his obsequious press organ, Fighthype.com (“Hey James, are you OK? Anything I can do for you?”).
Since he got soundly beat in his second fight against Samuel Peter back in 2007, Toney, who really has no business fighting as a heavyweight in the first place, has been a mere shell of his former boxing self. Now 43 years old, his reflexes are not what they were, and the years spent abusing his body have caught up with “Lights Out.”
But you’d never know it by listening to what he says (that’s when you can actually decipher what he is saying – his speech patterns have also deteriorated quite drastically).
When Toney says in his latest piece of Fighthype propaganda, that he is “the real heavyweight champion of the world,” it’s hard to figure if he’s just trying to convince his shrinking fanbase to buy a ticket to his next boxing travesty (he got whitewashed last time out by Denis Lebedev in November 2011, while supposedly suffering a serious injury – not serious enough, however, to keep him out of the ring a mere few months later), or if he’s really so delusional at this point that he actually believes what he’s saying.
“I want to blow this motherf*cker [Gunn] out of the water,” Toney says, “get Lebedev back, the Bitchhko Sisters, and then David Haye.
“Ain’t nothing changed….”
If only that last statement were true.
Then again, I suppose Toney is jealous that heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko recently chose veteran Jean Marc Mormeck of France to destroy, sending the Frenchman into likely retirement with a big payday, when Wlad could just as easily have beaten up on “Lights Out.”
Toney is obviously still hanging on, hoping that the Klitschko Lottery pulls his number and sends him into retirement with a few million dollars, but that scenario seems more unlikely with each passing day.
A loss to Bobby Gunn, and the lights will truly be out on James Toney’s boxing career.
With James Toney fading, there is room for a heavyweight contender with the gift of gab to make an impression, especially as a contrast to the gentlemanly Klitschko brothers, and Tyson Fury of the UK has made a strong bid to fill that void in the last year or so.
Fury, at 23 two decades younger than Toney, bombastically told this writer before his last bout – a tougher than he expected encounter with Canadian heavyweight champion Neven Pajkic last November – that he would quit the sport should Pajkic make any kind of a fight out of it.
“If Pajkic even gives me a good fight, I’ll retire, how’s that? If he even gives me a tidy fight, I’ll retire, because I’m going nowhere,” Fury told Boxing Insider.
“If a guy like Pajkic can even come close to me, that’s a promise. If he gives me any sort of a fight at all, I’ll retire.”
Pajkic, of course, showed up for the fight in spectacular condition, while Fury looked as if he had spent training camp watching television and eating donuts. And in the second round, Pajkic caught Fury with a hard, flush right hand to the face that sent the 6’9” Irish giant to the mat for the first time in his career.
Fury, to his credit, got off the mat and went on to win via a highly contentious quick stoppage in the next round.
And unsurprisingly, he didn’t retire.
Fury laid low for a few months following that near calamity, but now he’s back, preparing to fight fellow Irishman Martin Rogan on April 14 in Belfast.
And he’s talking big once again.
“I believe I will eventually retire as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, like Rocky Marciano,” Fury recently told The Daily Mail.
And Fury, it seems, has already mentally re-contextualized his knockdown at the hands of Neven Pajkic.
“I am a proper fighting man so I’m prepared to risk taking punches and we all know that any heavyweight can be put down by a big shot. But I always get up. In fact, my opponents are beginning to realize that the only way to beat Tyson Fury is to nail me to the canvas if they are lucky enough to knock me over,” Fury boasts.
Call it rationalizing if you will, but that’s an attitude that James Toney himself could admire.
Frank Warren’s Open Letter To WBC Head Jose Sulaiman
In the wake of a statement issued by WBC president Jose Sulaiman, in which British fighter Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora was indefinitely banned from fighting and asked to submit to anger management therapy, boxing promoter Frank Warren has published an open letter in SunSport to state his views on the matter:
I wish I could accuse you of having double standards. But I can’t, because I question whether you have any standards at all.
The way you have banned Dereck Chisora indefinitely, without even having the decency to call a hearing to establish the facts surrounding his recent bout against Vitali Klitschko, in my opinion shows you as a posturing, self-righteous egotist.
I learned of your decision through the media. You didn’t even let the British Boxing Board of Control, myself or Dereck know before you spoke to the world’s Press.
In any democracy, any man is innocent until proven guilty. But you appear to have set yourself up as judge, jury and executioner as far as Dereck is concerned.
You have announced an indefinite WBC ban on Dereck without a hearing and you have also said you will impose a ‘serious’ fine after you eventually do hold a hearing.
Again, you have found Chisora guilty without establishing any fact about what truly went on that night in Munich.
Not for one minute am I condoning what happened before the fight or with David Haye at the Press conference after the bout. I also believe boxing needs to discipline boxers who step out of line.
But I am staggered by how you have treated Dereck before you have heard any evidence from his side. It seems to me this is just a matter of convenience for your organisation.
Let me remind you how your organisation has dealt with other instances of indiscipline by boxers who wave the WBC flag.
Antonio Margarito was banned for a year by the California State Athletic Commission following the controversy over his hand wraps in the fight against Shane Mosley. He was accused of using some kind of plaster to make the bandages harder.
Without any WBC hearing, Margarito was then allowed to fight for a minor title in Mexico and made top contender to fight Manny Pacquiao.
Take Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s case, after he was found guilty of physically abusing a girlfriend.
You said the WBC should not touch Mayweather’s career or title as you wanted him to fight Manny Pacquiao.
I would like to remind you of the time you were injured in the brawl that took place between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson, when Tyson disgustingly bit Lewis during the Press conference prior to their fight.
You didn’t call for a ban and rang me asking if you should sue those who hosted the conference and broadcast the fight because of the lack of security.
That is one of my issues with the events in Munich. But you don’t seem interested in what actually happened.
If Dereck Chisora was a world champion, would you be taking this stance?