BOXING

Deontay Wilder and David Haye Flatten Their Opponents

Wilder Ends Szpilka’s Determined Challenge With Single Shot

Artur Szpilka knew that if he were to have any chance of beating Deontay Wilder and winning a heavyweight world title, then he would have to take some heavy shots from one of boxing’s biggest punchers. He also knew it would be better to take as few of them as possible.

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But having the kind of power Wilder has means he only really needs to land once. That’s what happened in the ninth round, when a single right hand was thrown at the right place and the right time and with the right amount of force, putting Szpilka down hard, rendering him unconscious and ending what had until then been a determined challenge.

Wilder had difficulty with Szpilka’s southpaw stance and what he described as an awkward style. Szpilka didn’t wobble Wilder with hard punches or rattle him with volume, yet his approach was effective in limiting Wilder’s activity and accuracy. It also seemed to potentially be enough to win him rounds on the scorecards.

Wilder was able to land a good right hand in the fourth; Szpilka took it fine. The same thing happened in the sixth. Wilder began to land a little more often in the seventh and eighth. There still wasn’t any indication that the fight was about to be over.

In the final minute of the ninth, Szpilka threw a jab upstairs that seemed to intentionally fall short so as to set up a left cross to Wilder’s body. As Szpilka bent his head down and forward, Wilder threw a right hand counter that just missed. They reset. Szpilka moved closer so as to throw a big left hand toward Wilder’s head, but Wilder got to him first with a right hand that crashed against Szpilka’s chin.

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And with that, Wilder had his 35th knockout in 36 wins. (Wilder was ahead on the scorecards at the time, with two judges giving him six of the eight completed rounds while the third judge gave him five.)

Wilder’s critics are quick to point out that most of those knockouts came against opponents who never belonged in the ring with world-class fighters, and that his three defenses since winning a world title a year ago have seen him needing to overcome difficult moments against gritty but otherwise lower-level foes in Eric Molina, Johann Duhaupas and now Szpilka.

Those critics have wondered how Wilder will do when he steps up in class. They could get their answer soon. Wilder owes a fight to his mandatory challenger, Alexander Povetkin. He’s also seeking a unification bout with the true heavyweight champion, British big man Tyson Fury, who entered the ring after Wilder-Szpilka and went nose-to-nose with the American. Fury is due to have a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko first.

This should finally be the year that Wilder either finally proves his detractors wrong or proves them right. One thing is already certain, however — he has a shot so long as he can land one.

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Haye TKOs de Mori, Puts Heavyweight Division On Alert

David Haye spent a long, long time out of the ring — three and a half years, to be exact — but he didn’t waste his time upon stepping back between those ropes.

Haye hurt Mark de Mori early and finished him quickly, scoring a technical knockout just two minutes and 11 seconds after their fight began.

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Haye was looking to land with power from the outset, throwing a jab followed by a right cross and left hook in the opening minute that could’ve done damage had they landed flush. They didn’t, but de Mori knew he nevertheless he had to try to get Haye’s respect. He threw a right hand. Haye blocked it and kept coming.

A jab and right hand landed for Haye. The combination worked again, and this time Haye added a few more hard blows afterward. Haye’s power and speed kept de Mori cautious; even when de Mori did throw, Haye was quick with a counter.

After one Haye flurry, de Mori jumped forward with a left hook that missed by feet. Haye walked him back toward a corner, threw a jab and a right cross, continued with a left hook upstairs and a right to the body. De Mori covered up. Haye pawed with his jab, inviting de Mori to try something. He did, sending out a jab and falling into the trap. Haye threw a right hand over the jab, hurting de Mori. A barrage of punches sent de Mori down, and that’s where he remained.

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It wasn’t the most meaningful win; de Mori, despite his record, was never anything approaching a world-beater. It was still the kind of victory that served to put the heavyweight division on alert, letting the other big men know that Haye was back.

His lone loss came against Wladimir Klitschko in 2011, a defeat that was all the more embarrassing given how much Haye had taunted Klitschko ahead of time and how little Haye was able to do once the fight began. Haye announced his retirement months later, only to return in 2012 with a fifth-round stoppage of Dereck Chisora.

Yet he pulled out of a few fights in the years since, undergoing surgery on his shoulder in late 2013. Two years passed until he announced he would be fighting once again.

Haye remains a potential threat, and so it will be interesting to see whether the other major heavyweights are willing to face him soon. Tyson Fury, Klitschko and Deontay Wilder are tied up with other obligations, yet there could be a huge fight for Haye in the United Kingdom against Anthony Joshua, who won gold in the 2012 Olympics and is now a rising star in their shared home country.

That fight would be must-see and don’t-blink.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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