BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- It was perfect, blunt, short and devastating. In a blink, the game, courageous Artur Szpilka was on his back—and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder kept his belt with a crushing right hand on the chin that stopped the Polish southpaw at 2:24 of the ninth round Saturday night at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, N.Y.
And then it turned into the Tyson Fury show, as the WBA heavyweight titlist challenged Wilder, and then went gallivanting around the ring, gesticulating and bellowing how great he is and how much of a phony Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) is, despite the overwhelming right he landed on poor Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs), who was taken from the ring tied down to a stretcher.
Related » Wilder-Szpilka Round-by-Round Scoring
At the time of the knockout, the fight was competitive. All three judges had Wilder ahead (Guido Cavalleri 77-75, Pasquale Procopio 78-74, Waleska Roldan 78-74). Punch stats favored Wilder, though the numbers were close. Wilder landed a total of 75 of 250 punches (30%), connecting on 39 of 92 power shots (42%) and 36 of 158 jabs (23%). Szpilka was respectable, landing 63 of 230 total punches (27%), 38 of 106 power shots (36%) and 25 of 124 jabs (20%).
“Thank you Artur Szpilka for your competitiveness,” Wilder said. “I always say two prayers, a team prayer and individual prayer. I don’t want to hurt the next man so he can’t go home to his family. People don’t give these fighters enough credit. We risk our lives every single time he get in the ring. (Szpilka) is definitely in my prayers. I hope he does well. He did (give me problems). He was definitely a crafty guy. He had the Polish people on his side. He was a tough contender. He did a great job. I was very patient and I was looking to set him up with a punch. They all can’t be pretty.”
That’s when Fury came into the picture.
He snatched the mic from Showtime announcer Jim Gray and shouted “There’s only one Tyson Fuuurrrrrry! What you got to say about that Deontay?”
Wilder didn’t fall for Fury’s antics. “This is just an act, you know where I am,” Wilder responded. “You know what time and you what place. I’m not scared of nobody. I’ll come to your backyard my man.”
Then the two got face-to-face and it got a tricky for a moment, as Fury went into Ric Flair mode, running around the ring and throwing off his vest.
“Anytime, anyplace, anywhere, I’ll fight you in your backyard,” Fury shouted. “I’ll beat you, you bum. You’re a bum!”
Wilder looked straight through Fury. “You should be an actor, this isn’t the WWE baby. When you step into the ring, I promise you, I will baptize you!”
Somewhere it was momentarily lost that the fans at Barclays Center were treated to a decent fight.
Szpilka did well over the first three rounds—arguably winning all three. He showed great poise, unfazed by being in the ring with a titlist. He was aggressive, coming forward, and placing Wilder in uncomfortable spots. After three rounds, Szpilka connected on 18 power punches to Wilder’s six. “The Bronze Bomber” was put on his heels, unable to get off his jab consistently.
That changed in the fourth round. In that round, Wilder seemed to wake up. He began landing the jab and in the last :30 of the round, which opened a right to the head. Some swelling began to build under Szpilka’s right eye.
By the fifth, Wilder seemed to establish himself a little more. He connected with a right uppercut, and though Szpilka appeared to be more active, Wilder landed the heavier blows.
Halfway through the fight, it wasn’t as easy for Wilder as many thought going in—maybe in for Wilder himself. But Szpilka tried to throw a right uppercut from too far a distance in the sixth, opening himself up to a Wilder counter right. It was the best punch of the round.
There was a theme building. Wilder seemed to figure out Szpilka. His confidence rose. He was getting stronger, while Szpilka became more indecisive. Again, Szpilka tried connecting from too far a distance, opening himself up for counter rights. Though just when the fight was swaying in favor of Wilder, Szpilka came back to win the eighth.
And then—bang—it was over, just like that.
Szpilka came forward, Wilder measured him accurately and splat, landed the fight-ending punch on Szpilka’s chin.
Joseph Santoliquito is the president of the Boxing Writer's Association of America and a frequent contributor to Sherdog.com's mixed martial arts and boxing coverage. His archive can be found here.