But Knocked Out Cold as He Began to Win, Szilka Nearly Got There
In a magnificent theatrical saga worthy of updated Greek tragedy, or at least modern television Dickensian soap opera, a Polish underdog who had talked as if he were a man of Destiny met his match in the form of a taller Afro-American heavyweight champ with glistening biceps and unfairly long reach, and despite making headway by pummeling him in a blur of speed which brought them to a ninth round where Alabama native Deontay Wilder was acting slightly winded and the Polish ex-hooligan Artur Szpilka was possibly making uphill progress towards the far off prospect of an upset victory suddenly there was Szpilka tumbling out cold to the canvas, ready to be carted off to hospital on a stretcher to make sure he wasn’t too badly damaged by a knockout blow that he really shouldn’t have exposed himself to so openly as he got in too close to reach for Wilder’s head.
Presumably this untoward reversal was the result of the many blows that Wilder had landed on Szpilka’s face over the course of previous rounds which must have caused him to lose some measure of concentration on the one overriding priority he had to keep in mind, evasion of Wilder’s notoriously solid right hand punch which had already won him 34 knockouts in 35 fights. But contributing to the sudden debacle was the undoubted fact that the Bronze Bomber was following a watchful waiting policy that guaranteed that the slightest moment of vulnerable exposure would see the challenger stymied and dazed by a swift right to the head if not actually stretched out on the floor, and this was a perfect set up, a huge door of opportunity which Wilder was not going to miss because all he needed was a reflex which is his most used deadly weapon.
Along with the engaging interviews by both parties before the fight, with Szpilka vouchsafing he was fighting for Poland as much as himself, the parade onstage with both wearing masks in what appears to be a new tradition of boxing theatre rising to match the pre fight antics of wrestling. Wilder in his bronze mask reminiscent of Persian invaders, and Szpilka in a red handkerchief emblazoned with the arms of Poland, the determined penetration of Wilder’s long reach in the developing rounds of the battles, with points generally measuring a neck and neck equality but with Szpilka suffering more face blows than Wilder, it seemed, and the outcome not only in doubt but with a slightly improving chance that Spilka might pull it off, to the delight of the substantial crowd of Poles gathered in in the Center to support him in what was a christening of Brooklyn’s new home for boxing’s top fights and the return of major fights to what is rapidly becoming the new center of New York City after 115 years.
Then the sudden collapse, with Szpilka’s typically pretty Polish girlfriend at ringside consumer with anxiety for the welfare of her star quality partner. (Calm down. – Ed)
As an edge of the seat cliffhanger it couldn’t have been better scripted, even though the general opinion among boxers and at home in Poland before the fight was that Szpilka didn’t stand a chance again Wilder power and longer reach.