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.”
Monte Barrett Set To Become “King of New Zealand”
By Johnny Walker
When Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett defeated David Tua last year in the Tuamanator’s back yard Down Under, it looked like the future was rosy for the New York heavyweight boxing veteran.
Alas, things haven’t worked out quite as Barrett [35-9-2, 20 KOs] had planned.
After two exciting fights with the New Zealand native (the first resulted in a controversial draw in Atlantic City in 2010), Barrett had hoped to cash in on a lucrative third bout, but that hope has now been dashed by Tua’s unofficial retirement from the sport.
Barrett has also soured on Tua personally after his name was dragged through the mud with the results of a post-fight drug test last year supposedly showing him testing positive for a banned substance.
The test results ultimately amounted to nothing because of the time it took (over 3 months) for them to be made public, and also because of other procedural irregularities.
Even if Tua were to change his mind on retirement, Barrett tells Boxing Insider that he’s no longer interested in making it a trilogy “because of the way Tua handled the drug test.”
“He could have called me, he has my number, instead of calling me a cheater and a loser in the press,” Barrett, who maintains his innocence in the matter, explains.
Barrett famously called Tua an over-emotional “Queen of New Zealand” while talking to Boxing Insider after the drug test fracas broke out, a quote which was plastered across many major publications in Tua’s homeland.
Tua had been in line for a title shot against a Klitschko brother had he defeated Barrett, yet Barrett has earned no such opportunities after beating Tua once officially, and twice in reality (even Tua admitted he lost their first encounter in Atlantic City).
Instead, Barrett had to sit and watch as Wladimir Klitschko destroyed the totally undeserving Jean Marc Mormeck of France.
Undaunted, however, Barrett hopes now to get some measure of revenge on Tua by going to his homeland and becoming the major heavyweight attraction there. He is even toying with the idea of taking up New Zealand citizenship.
“Tua is the Queen of New Zealand, so I figure I’ll be the King,” the always quotable Barrett says.
First up in this royal crusade is a defense of Barrett’s Oriental and Asia Pacific titles against previous Tua victim Shane Cameron (28-2, 21 KOs) on May 31 in New Zealand.
Cameron has been fighting at cruiserweight since his 2009 loss to Tua, and has reeled off five straight wins.
While Barrett says he “doesn’t feel any pressure to knock out Cameron the way Tua did” (a brutal second round KO), he also notes that his opponent “is susceptible to a lot of punches” and “they’re the punches that I throw.”
“I won’t say which ones,” Barrett slyly adds.
Barrett is now working with a new trainer, Buddy McGirt, and says preparations for the Cameron fight are already underway and “going great.”
Should he emerge victorious against Cameron, Barrett may find his regal status Down Under being challenged by none other than local rugby superstar Sonny Bill Williams (5-0, 3 KOs).
A neophyte in the boxing ring, the muscular Williams, 26, nevertheless captured the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association heavyweight title in February with a win over Clarence Tillman.
“I’ll fight [Williams] if they want to see it,” Barrett laughs.
“They say he has million dollar abs.
“I can’t wait to punch him in the gut so he will never want to put on a pair of boxing gloves again. He’ll go back to playing soccer or rugby or whatever for the rest of his life, having nightmares about that punch to the gut.”
More Featured 1
Jean Marc Mormeck: An Unworthy Challenger for Wladimir Klitschko
By Johnny Walker
So today we see from the punchstats that Jean Marc Mormeck landed a grand total of three punches against world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko yesterday in Germany.
You read that right: THREE.
I’m not going to criticize Klitschko’s actual performance against Mormeck. Contrary to the spin put out by Klitschko and his trainer Emanuel Steward before the fight, the champion obviously knew that if he failed to blow out his overmatched opponent, his reputation would take a severe hit, and the questions from the boxing press would be annoying and never-ending.
With that in mind, Wladimir proceeded to demolish the hapless Frenchman.
I have no qualms with Wlad’s performance. He demonstrated his total superiority over the barely present Mormeck in every area.
But I do have to wonder when he and his camp claim there was nobody better than Mormeck out there ready and willing to fight.
Take the case of New York’s Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett, for instance.
True, Wladimir had beaten Barrett back in 2000, but Barrett has changed his life around since those days, and has a newfound focus and commitment to his sport. This was showed in his two great efforts against David Tua that resulted in a controversial draw in 2010 and a unanimous decision victory in 2011.
Last year, when Barrett went to New Zealand and beat David Tua in his own backyard, the fight was supposed to be the one to set Tua up for a title shot. – in fact, Tua’s promoter Cedric Kushner was livid after the bout, as a lucrative deal that he had in writing for a Klitschko fight depended on a Tua victory over Barrett.
By beating David Tua, you would have thought Barrett would be a very strong contender to take on Wladimir Klitschko. And Barrett was definitely ready and willing to get in the ring with either Klitschko brother.
“The Klitschko girls just hand-pick opponents, and fight whoever they’re emotional with,” Barrett told this writer last December.
“They remind me of emotional little girls. They’re a couple of big old trees in the heavyweight forest, taking up space. And they’re going to get pissed on.”
Barrett was obviously hoping, in light of David Haye’s experiences with them, that some trash talk might get the Klitschkos’ attention, but it was not to be. He was passed over in favor of the vastly inferior Mormeck.
And Barrett is not the only one who would have been preferable to Mormeck.
Writer Scott Christ published a list of fighters he would have preferred to see Wladimir in with compared to Mormeck, and I can’t really argue with any of his choices. Hell, even Wlad versus the hulking giant Tye Fields would have been more interesting from the mere standpoint of size.
For those who think I’m being too hard on Wladimir, who I’ve defended numerous times in the past, think back to your reaction when, after he had defeated Audley Harrison in a farcical bout, then WBA heavyweight champion David Haye floated the idea of a rematch with Mormeck, who he’d already knocked out.
The reaction I heard from most Klitschko fans was one of outrage and disbelief.
How could David “The Ducker” Haye consider such a fight?
And that reaction was the correct one.
In reality, Haye had no business fighting Jean Marc Mormeck at that point in time.
And neither did Wladimir Klitschko this time.