Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
BROOKLYN — Deontay Wilder ended his third WBC title defense in chilling fashion with a one-punch, ninth knockout over Artur Szpilka at the Barclays Center.
What was predicted to be an easy defense quickly became a spirited contest with Szpilka relying on movement and body punching to keep Wilder off balance and swinging wildly. When Wilder used his 83 inch reach to fire off jabs, he kept Szpilka at bay and on the end of hard straight rights. But Szpilka’s southpaw stance coupled with awkward right counters and overhand lefts presented constant challenges.
“He was definitely a crafty guy,” said Wilder. “I haven’t competed against a southpaw in three years. He was a tough competitor, but you’re fighting for a world title. It’s not supposed to be easy. I’m surprised it took that long, but we had 12 rounds and they can’t all can’t be pretty.”
The knockout blow came with Szpilka lunging in with a left hook and being caught right on the chin with a counter right hand.
Szpilka was unconscious before he hit the canvas.
He remained on the canvas for several minutes but was responsive to medical staff. He was later transported to Lutheran Hospital.
“He’s doing good,” said Szpilka’s trainer Ronnie Shields. “He’s awake and knows exactly where he is. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, but he’s going as a precaution. It’s better safe than sorry.”
Wilder kept his post-fight celebrating in check after seeing Szpilka’s condition and offered words of encouragement.
“I told him he was a great contender,” Wilder said. “He came to give his all. He gave his all for Brooklyn. I always say two prayers. I say a team prayer and I say an individual prayer. I don’t want to hurt a man so he can’t go home to his family. We risk our lives every time we step in the ring. He’s definitely in my prayers and I hope he’s doing well.”
TITLE UNIFICATION?: Lineal and WBA heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who was ringside, confronted Wilder during the post-fight interview. Both men were nose to nose and berated each other until Fury upped the theatrics by pacing the ring and throwing off his jacket. Wilder emphasized that he would love to unify and that Fury was a “clown” who thinks he’s in “wrestling.” Fury took a dig at Wilder’s competition, calling him “Bum Squad.”
MARTIN WINS IBF TITLE ON FREAK INJURY: On the undercard, Charles Martin won the vacant IBF title after Vyacheslav Glazkov could not continue following an injury to his right knee. In the third, Glazkov slipped and appeared to have discomfort when he rose to his feet. Later in the round, he tried to plant for a shot and collapsed when his knee buckled. Martin was getting the better of the brief exchanges before Glazkov had to retire.
“I want to unify the titles,” Martin said. “We didn’t even fight tonight. I want another fighter. I want Tyson Fury.”