ONE PUNCH CAN CHANGE IT ALL – WILDER vs. SZPILKA

Thomas Gonzalez

The Heavyweight champion of the world, for a time, was believed to be the ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’, the current heavyweight picture circa 2016, really has you wonder whether that is still the case.

New York has a storied tradition of hosting the fights of the world heavyweight King, greater than any other city on the planet. Since the days of Joe ‘Brown Bomber’ Louis, to the respective reigns of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, to the bombastic Mike Tyson, followed by the seemingly invincible Klitschko brothers, and now in 2016 to Deontay Wilder, east coast fans have been wowed to the greatest big men in history.

This Saturday, Deontay Wilder (35-0-0) has his turn. The WBC heavyweight champion of the world, will be facing Artur Szpilka of Poland (20-1-0) in the third defense of his title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This match-up is a fine addition to an already vigorous January, which also features another world heavyweight title fight on it’s undercard in the form of Czar Glazkov vs. Charles Martin for the vacant IBF title.

Wilder, an Alabama native, raced to a ledger of 31-0 with 31 knockouts early in his career. Until his unanimous decision victory over former champion Bermane Stiverne back in January of 2015, all of the Olympic Bronze medalist’s bouts failed to last longer than the end of the sixth round. Since then, his last two bouts have ended in the ninth and the eleventh, earning stoppage victories over tough opponents in Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas.

With a 97.1% knockout ratio, many have favored Wilder as this fight fast approaches, but Szpilka along with trainer Ronnie Shields think otherwise. After his only loss to Bryant Jennings, Szpilka has rebounded four straight victories since and despite being the eighth contender in the WBC rankings, is looking to pull off a huge upset against the relatively new American champion.

For Wilder, this fight is a chance to re-assure his critics that he is, as he has boldly claimed, the best heavyweight boxer in the world. For Szpilka, it’s the chance to do what another notable Polish heavyweight Andrew Golota failed to do, become the first Polish heavyweight champion.

With only a week remaining until fight night, both camps are now preparing for what could very well be a career defining fight for either fighter; the winner could likely unify with the newly crowned IBF champion – whether that be Martin or Glazkov.

There’s a saying in boxing that ‘one punch can change it all.’

Come Saturday January 16, the world will see who lands that punch first.

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