NEW YORK: Unbeaten American Deontay Wilder will defend his share of boxing’s fractured heavyweight crown next month in New York against Poland’s Artur Szpilka, promoters announced on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Wilder owns the World Boxing Council title and was looking at a fight against Ukraine’s unbeaten Vyacheslav Glazkov, but when Britain’s undefeated Tyson Fury dethroned Wladimir Klitschko by unanimous decision last month, the landscape changed and a deal with Szpilka was made for a January 16 bout.
“I wish him luck. He’s going to need it,” Wilder said of Szpilka. “I look forward to winning over the Polish fans after I beat him. I know he’s a southpaw and he tends to give up when things get tough in the ring. He doesn’t have heart when it gets tough.”
Fury plans to fight a big-money rematch with Ukraine star Klitschko for the World Boxing Association title and two lesser-regarded crowns.
But because he will not next fight Glazkov, the International Boxing Federation’s mandatory challenger, the IBF has stripped him of its title and will award the vacant crown to the winner of a planned bought between Glazkov (21-0 with one drawn and 13 knockouts) and US southpaw Charles Martin (22-0 with one drawn and 20 knockouts).
Shrugging off the chaos in favor of climbing into the ring next will be Wilder, 35-0 with 34 knockouts. His lone fight to go the distance was last January when he took a lopsided unanimous decision from Bermane Stiverne for the WBC title. It was Wilder’s first fight to last beyond the fourth round.
Since then, Wilder knocked out compatriot Eric Molina in the ninth round last June and stopped Frenchman Johann Duhaupas in the 11th round last September.
Now comes Szpilka, 20-1 with 15 knockouts. The 26-year-old southpaw was stopped in the 10th round by American Bryant Jennings last year but has won four fights since, including a matchup with Polish veteran Tomasz Adamek at Krakow.
“It feels amazing to get the opportunity to fight Deontay for his heavyweight world title,” Szpilka said.
“I can’t wait to be the first ever Polish heavyweight to win a world title. I’ve dreamed about this many times and now my time has come. I’ll be ready to put on a show for my fans and take his belt from him.”
Wilder will become the first heavyweight champion since Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 2000-01 to fight four times in 12 months. Lewis was also the most recent undisputed world heavyweight champion, a goal Wilder aspires to equal.
“I am looking forward to being the next undisputed heavyweight champion and the most active heavyweight champion in history,” Wilder said.
“I’m also active once I get into the ring. In my last fight, I landed an average of 30 of the 53 punches that I threw each round. That was more than double what Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko landed, combined.”
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Wilder said he hoped to unify the crowns by late next year but with the three major belts scattered, the timetable for an undisputed showdown will largely depend on Fury.
“A victory will lead to a major clash in his next bout,” Wilder promoter Lou DiBella said of his fighter.
Wilder, the first US-born heavyweight world champion since 2007, will make his New York debut. He won the heavyweight bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the most recent Games medal won by a US fighter.
The fight at Barclays Center will be the first heavyweight title bout in Brooklyn since 1900, when James Jeffries knocked out fellow American James Corbett in the 23rd round on Coney Island.
Jeffries also beat Irishman Tom Sharkey and Britain’s Bob Fitzsimmons in 1899 title bouts on Coney Island, the fourth and fifth world heavyweight title fights of the modern gloved era.