Saturday, September 23, 2023  |


A heavyweight update

Fighters Network
Photo by David A. Smith / Getty Images

Photo by David A. Smith / Getty Images

Our long national nightmare is over, friends. The search party has hit paydirt and found a dance partner for Deontay Wilder.
It was to be Czar Glazkov but politics intervened and the Russian would rather fight “Prince” Charles Martin for the vacant IBF title than Wilder for his WBC crown. Thus, Plan B was necessary for the Jan. 16 dance party to unfold at Barclays Center…and there were candidates galore.

Amir Mansour was considered, as was Shannon Briggs, the Brownsville, Brooklyn native who is on the comeback train after being beaten badly by Vitali Klitschko in 2010 and taking time off to lick his wounds and assess his future.

Word is, though, that the WBC wouldn’t sign off on Briggs as a title challenger, fearing he could get whupped too bad by the Alabaman. Wilders’ co-trainer, Mark Breland, himself a proud Brooklyner, told me he would have enjoyed the leadup to a Wilder-Briggs tangle. “Oh yeah,” he said, “but he could have gotten hurt, Deontay is a great athlete.”

Briggs sparred with Wilder on SiriusXM Tuesday night, and craves the clash but, for now, is on the outside looking in.

And Artur Szpilka, what of him?

“He’s small, a short guy. Tough guy, that’s about it,” said Breland.

We agreed that he’s a step up in caliber from Eric Molina and Johann Duhaupas, the last two hitters with whom Wilder signed up to dance. “And because he’s better, it’s a possibility that makes Deontay fight ever better, give a better performance.”

Lou DiBella will promote the Wilder defense; I asked his thoughts on Szpilka (age 26, 20-1 with 15 KOs, stopped once by Bryant Jennings in Jan. 2014, has won four straight against OK competition since). “He’s a brawler. Styles can’t make a bad fight. He will be supported by a big Polish contingent and he will be very motivated to become the first Polish world heavyweight champion,” DiBella said.

As far as other shoes dropping, we should be seeing Glazkov versus St. Louis hitter Martin soon-ish. (Martin has been pulled from his Saturday spat against prospect Dominic Breazeale.) Where, when…and on what channel? Glazkov is a Main Events guy; they do work with HBO, mostly. Martin is under the Al Haymon adviser umbrella and he has not recently done much with HBO. So that could prove to be a hill to climb, when putting specifics on this waltz together. “As far as when and where, that depends on who wins the purse bid,” said Duva. “So it is too early to say.” A purse bid is set to take place on Dec. 18.

And what about other shoes? Amir Mansour, a Philly boxer handled by the esteemed J Russell Peltz, would like to land on the Wilder card. “The Wilder people took a guy with less of a punch and less of a chin than Mansour,” Peltz told me. “Hey, if I were Wilder, I’d rather fight Szpilka too! But Mansour would like to fight Briggs in Brooklyn. It would be good for the show.” Makes infinite sense to me; Briggs turned 44 on Dec. 4, and Mansour turns 44 in July. This is, from that standpoint, an even playing field…

And yet more shoes…Tyson Fury is knee-deep in his triumphant Foot-in-Mouth Tour, as he soaks up congratulations and finds fresh pockets of the planet to insult, while his online apologists make excuses for him citing his cultural biases, rights to free speech and my inability to note he is just joshing, at various times.

I messaged a Team Klitschko contact to see if there’s any news of a possible date for the sequel to Fury-Klitschko, which I would think would HAVE to be a more fan-friendly tussle than the sub-classic they gave us a couple weeks ago. I will insert that when I get a reply.

My take: Regardless of the TV outlet, Szpilka will need to not get sloppy and drop his hands against Wilder. The ‘Bama boxer will look to funnel the Pole into moving to his left, into his straight right hand, and I’d expect him to be able to do just that.


Michael Woods’ desire to find a heavyweight dance partner was short-lived when his beautiful-yet-petite missus slapped him upside his head.

A heavyweight update