Sources indicate to TSS that WBC heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder will defend his portion of the heavyweight crown against Artur Szpilka on January 16 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The bout will be featured live on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Wilder-Szpilka will be Wilder’s third title defense since picking up the WBC belt in January in a 12-round decision win over Bermane Stiverne. Wilder was impressive in that fight, facing his toughest opponent to date and jabbing his way to the unanimous decision victory.
But since that career high point, Wilder has faced two less than notable opponents, and he didn’t really appear all that elite against either one of them. Wilder scored a Round 9 knockout over little known Texan, Eric Molina, in June in a tougher-than-expected tussle, and a Round 11 stoppage in September over unheralded Frenchman Johann Duhaupas.
Szpilka should be a step up from that level of opposition. The 26-year-old southpaw from Poland has won four straight fights since a Round 10 TKO loss to title contender Bryant Jennings last year.
After the defeat, his first, Szpilka rebounded to decision former cruiserweight titleholder Tomasz Adamek over 10 rounds before reeling off three straight knockout wins in stay-busy fights against Ty Cobb, Manuel Quezada and Yasmany Consuegra.
Szpilka appears to be a much better fighter than the one Jennings defeated last year. He moved from Chicago to Houston earlier this year to train with Ronnie Shields, and has dedicated himself to Plex guru Danny Arnold’s rigorous strength and conditioning program. Moreover, he’s added new punches to his offensive repertoire, most notably uppercuts from various angles, to augment his already aggressive and effective fighting style.
Still, Wilder will likely be a heavy favorite going into the fight. The 30-year-old is undefeated in 35 prizefights and has stopped every single opponent but one (Stiverne) since turning professional back in 2008. Wilder is the last American male boxer to medal at the Olympics, capturing a bronze in the heavyweight division, and is the consensus pick among many in the sport as the United States’ best chance at recapturing professional heavyweight glory.