(Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME) American heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder defended his WBC title for the third time with a devastating ninth round knockout of Polish challenger Artur Szpilka on Saturday night, live on SHOWTIME in front of 12,668 fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
With WBA and WBO Heavyweight World Champion Tyson Fury and Wilder’s mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin watching from ringside, Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) impressed yet again in knocking out his 35th opponent in 36 fights.
It was a close fight until Szpilka walked into a brutal right to the chin while throwing a wide left at 2:24 of the ninth round. Szpilka fell onto his back and remained unconscious on the canvas for a few moments before responding to questions and stating he was fine. Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) was conversing and moving all his extremities, however he was taken to Lutheran Hospital on a stretcher as a precautionary measure.
“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.”
Power was the difference for Wilder, a 6-foot-7 bomber who landed 42 percent of his power shots against the southpaw opponent. The 30-year-old briefly celebrated his victory before checking to ensure that Szpilka was going to be fine.
“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.
“He was definitely a crafty guy,” continued 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.”
Fury, the outspoken British unified world champion, climbed into the ring after the fight and claimed he wanted to fight Wilder in a unification blockbuster.
“Any time, any place, anywhere. I’ll fight you in your backyard after I beat (Wladimir) Klitschko again.”
Wilder, the first American heavyweight champion in nearly a decade, dismissed Fury’s antics while promising he was game for a showdown that is undoubtedly one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing.
“We all know Fury is just a phony,” Wilder said. “This is just an act. I’m not scared of anybody. We’ll come to your backyard. This is just an act – you’re not a real fighter. I don’t play. This isn’t wrestling. When you do step in that ring with me I promise you I will baptize you.
“I would love to fight him next, unfortunately, I have other mandatories due. Make the date Tyson, I promise you.”
In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING opener, Charles Martin won the IBF Heavyweight World Championship when Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a right knee injury in the third round and was unable to continue. The fight was scored a third round TKO (1:50) after Glazkov told referee Earl Brown that he was unable to continue.
Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who was the aggressor throughout the fight, becomes the sixth southpaw heavyweight champion in boxing history and the second current American heavyweight titlist.
Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) slipped early in the third and seemed uneasy when he returned to his feet. The previously undefeated Ukrainian continued fighting, but he fell to the canvas again while throwing a punch. Replays confirmed that the right knee injury was a slip and wasn’t the result of a connected shot from Martin. After the fight, ringside doctor Gerard Verlotta confirmed to SHOWTIME Sports reporter Jim Gray that the injury was a torn right ACL.
“I still wanted to fight,” Martin said. “We trained for 12 rounds and we were going to get stronger as the rounds went on. He just kind of twisted his ankle, it looked like. But every time I hit him in the body and his legs were flying. It’s boxing,. That was a football injury. I’m sorry for him. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t continue the fight.
“I want to unify the titles. We didn’t even fight tonight. I want another fighter. I want Tyson Fury.”
A dejected Glazkov pleaded his case for a rematch while being inspected by doctors in his locker room.
“This should have been my belt,” Glazkov said. “I already had him figured out. I slipped and felt a sharp pain in my right knee and felt it give it out. I’m very upset. I want a rematch when I recover.”
In non-televised action, Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki (13-0, 10 KOs) thrilled the hometown crowd with an exciting and dominant victory over Danny Kelly (9-2-1, 8 KOs). The Polish-born fighter used precise hooks and devastating uppercuts to earn the unanimous decision by scores of 80-72 twice and 79-73.
Undefeated Notre Dame alum Mike Lee (16-0, 10 KOs) was sharp in his cruiserweight outing as he stopped Joseph Gardner (11-9-1, 1 KO) 43 seconds into round three. Lee dropped his opponent twice in round three before finishing the bout in round four.
Ivan Golub (10-0, 8 KOs) blasted out Juan Rodriguez (12-4, 5 KOs) and scored a TKO victory in the first round. The Ukranian-born fighter now training out of Brooklyn delivered an enormous overhand right that sent Rodriguez down and prompted the referee to stop the fight 2:41 into the round.
Undefeated Polish middleweight Maciej Sulecki (22-0, 7 KOs) dominated veteran
Derrick Findley (22-18-1, 14 KOs) to remain perfect via a stoppage 1:29 into the seventh round. In a fun battle of unbeaten prospects Botisher Obidov (4-0-1, 1 KO) eked out a narrow unanimous decision over Ramil Gadzhiev (1-1, 1 KO) with all three judges scoring the fight 39-37.
Light heavyweight prospect Carlos Gongora (4-0, 3 KOs) scored three knockdowns before eventually stopping Derrick Adkins (1-1-1, 1 KO) in round four. The final shot was a devastating body shot that ended the fight 1:58 into the round.
Brooklyn’s Julian Sosa (4-0-1, 2 KOs) thrilled his many fans in attendance with a dominant performance on his way to stopping Bryan Timmons (3-7, 3 KOs) at 1:48 into the second round.
Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast will re-air on Monday, Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available On Demand beginning this Sunday.
Mauro Ranallo called the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING action with Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and former world champion Paulie Malignaggi commentating and Jim Gray reporting. In Spanish, Alejandro Luna called the blow-by-blow with former world champion Raul Marquez serving as color commentator.
The event was promoted by DiBella Entertainment in association with Warriors Boxing and Sferis Knockout Promotions and sponsored by Corona. The executive producer of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING is David Dinkins Jr. with Bob Dunphy directing.