Deontay Wilder: Szpilka was a crafty guy
(Photo credit: Naoki Fakuda) By Dan Ambrose: It took WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) a little longer than fans expected it would take him to dispatch #8 WBC challenger Artur Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) last Saturday night in their fight on Showtime. Wilder says he had a difficult time adjusting to the 26-year-old Szpilka’s southpaw style and the crafty way he moved around the ring all night long.
Wilder was expecting Szpilka to be a little easier to get to in the fight, but the PPolish fighter chose to move around frequently to keep Wilder guessing. Even when Szpilka was standing in front of Wilder, he was moving his upper body to keep him from being able to land his big right hand like he wanted to.
“His [Szpilka] style was crazy awkward,” Wilder said after the fight in explaining why it took him so long to score the knockout. “It was like I had to do the chasing, and then he would come forward. It was kind of a weird feeling in fighting a southpaw. The crowd didn’t bother me. I really don’t listen to the crowd. He just had an awkward style. I am very patient. Most of the time when I hit him with a right hand my positioning wasn’t right. I wasn’t stable enough to hit him. I didn’t want to lean in and take risks. I was very cautious in this fight. I knew when it was time for it to happen, it was going to happen. I knew I was going to catch him at some point in the fight, and I did. In camp, we had many southpaws, and I had no problems with them. It was just one of those nights.”
Late in the fight, Wilder’s corner was telling him in between rounds that Szpilka was mostly leaning to just one side most of the time. A short time later, Deontay was finally able to get the knockout that he wanted after hitting Szpilka with a big right hand to the head in the 9th.
The movement that Szpilka used against Wilder will probably be used as blueprint for Wilder’s opposition to use in future fights against him. Wilder will need to figure out how to handle movement better, because he can count on his opponents using Szpilka’s style against him from now on.
“He was definitely a crafty guy,” Wilder said to ESPN.com. “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 be pretty.”
Wilder’s next opponent is supposed to be Alexander Povetkin, who is not known for using a great deal of movement. Povetkin is more of a pressure fighter than anything is. He’s going to be coming straight at Wilder looking to test his chin.
Wilder is going to have to find some way of keeping Povetkin off him because he is too good of a puncher to be allowed to walk him down for 12 rounds. Wilder does not clinch a lot in his fights, but he might want to consider using this tactic against Povetkin the way Wladimir Klitschko did in 2013.