Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) hits really hard.
After a competitive nine-plus rounds, the WBC world heavyweight champion obliterated Artur Szpilka (20-2) with a right hand from hell Saturday night in Brooklyn, New York, at Barclays Center. The punch landed flush on the Polish contender's chin, and he flopped to the canvas.
Here's a look at the destructive counter that ended the fight, per Showtime Sports:
SHOWTIME SPORTS @SHOsports
.@BronzeBomber knocks out @szpilka_artur in round 9 and retains his WBC heavyweight title #AndStill #WilderSzpilka https://t.co/aB8J3liY8T2016-1-17 04:45:07
It was a scary finish, and ESPN.com's Dan Rafael shared those sentiments:
Dan Rafael @danrafaelespn
Szpilka is still down. That was bad. Really bad. #WilderSzpilka #boxing2016-1-17 04:44:09
As Bryan Armen Graham of the Guardian tweeted, Szpilka left the ring on a stretcher:
Bryan Armen Graham @BryanAGraham
Szpilka is leaving the ring on a stretcher after being down for at least seven minutes since the knockout.2016-1-17 04:49:07
During the broadcast, his trainer, Ronnie Shields, told Showtime's Jim Gray that his fighter was "good" and was going to the hospital as a precaution.
Szpilka made a great account of himself before going down. His head movement and southpaw stance seemed to give Wilder some problems. At the point of the stoppage, it was still a winnable fight for the challenger.
He seemed to slow in the second half of the bout. Szpilka got careless, and Wilder made him pay. Early in the fight, Wilder was tentative and wild with his punches as he seemed to struggle to find the range.
He was standing so far away from Szpilka that he was unable to connect with his jab consistently. That punch has become almost as essential to his success as his powerful right hand in recent fights.
In the fourth round, Wilder seemed to find his groove. He was more comfortable and loose, and his jab became the rangefinder.
He hit Szpilka's head back with a one-two combination in that frame, but the Pole absorbed the shot. Szpilka ate a few more straight rights before running into the coup de grace in the ninth.
The action wasn't over when the fight ended. Current WBA, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury came into the ring and engaged the champ in a nose-to-nose verbal exchange. Per Showtime Sports, here's a look at the two behemoths getting too close for comfort:
SHOWTIME SPORTS @SHOsports
.@BronzeBomber and @Tyson_Fury exchange words following Wilder's explosive KO in his title defense. #WilderSzpilka https://t.co/FwKrmOJ1zq2016-1-17 04:59:20
Wilder had more to say as Fury began to dance around the ring and increase his antics. ESPN.com's Brian Campbell and USA Today's Mike Coppinger shared the final parting shots from the two heavyweight champions:
Brian Campbell @BCampbellCBS
Wilder to Fury: "This is just an act, you're not a real fighter. This is not WWE .. I promise when you step into ring I will baptize you."2016-1-17 04:55:31
Mike Coppinger @MikeCoppinger
"Anytime, anyplace in the U.S. I'll fight you in your backyard. You're a punk." - @Tyson_Fury to @BronzeBomber2016-1-17 04:54:48
Undisputed Champion Network's Steve Kim probably spoke for everyone with this comment:
Back to Steve Kim @steveucnlive
Tyson Fury is great.... #boxing2016-1-17 04:54:16
Fury's actions may be childish and annoying for his foes, but he's the first heavyweight who has made you want to see him in the ring—winning or losing—in a while.
The guy is must-see TV, and for any American fight fans who weren't acquainted with the man from Manchester, England, this was an appropriate introduction. A bout between him and Wilder to unify their titles is a potential pay-per-view extravaganza.
Their exchange Saturday night made the potential bout only seem more interesting.
Both Wilder and Fury have other commitments that will almost certainly prevent them from facing each other in their next fights, though. Alexander Povetkin is Wilder's WBC mandatory challenger, and former heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko has exercised his right to a rematch this year against Fury.
It might be possible to convince Povetkin to take some step-aside money and allow Wilder to face Fury, but that doesn't seem likely to happen with Klitschko. Fight fans who are eager to see Wilder and Fury in the ring can only hope both men win their next bouts.
A clash between the two in the third or fourth quarter of the year might be the most anticipated fight of 2016. The heavyweight division is back.
Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter.