Boxers are given some time to rest their heads during the winter holidays but the heavyweight division is ready to start slugging again this weekend. American champion Deontay Wilder defends his crown in New York, Vyacheslv Glazkov and Charles Martin battle to pick up a vacant world title and David Haye returns to the ring after more than three years away.
Deontay Wilder vs Artur Szpilka, Sun, 3am
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The U.S. of A. rejoiced at the start of 2015 when they finally had a new heavyweight world champion and now, one year later, Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs) is defending his strap for the third time. He wants to unifying the division by fighting the winner of Fury-Klischko II but first he has to deal with the young Polish prospect Artur Szpilka (20-1, 15 KOs).
Paddy is damning of Szpilka chances, making him to win the two horse race, and that price is probably fair because the champ is unbeaten in his 35 fights and has won 34 of them inside the distance. But despite Wilder’s impressive numbers he’s still not really proven at the top level.
Wilder won the title from Bermane Stiverne on points by a convincing margin but before that contest The Bomber had won every fight in less than four rounds. Against average opposition, in Wilder’s last two fights, the champ has laboured to two late stoppage wins.
Szpilka The Pin, as he is bizarrely nicknamed, has faced two former world title challengers so far in his career, winning one and getting stopped in round 10 by the other. In 2015 the Pole won three from three and showed good power to finish all the fights early.
Wilder has many advantages over his southpaw opponent: Height, speed and experience, to name just a few. But I expect The Pin to show he is almost as hard as nails to reach the second half of the fight. Wilder is to get the victory in rounds 7-12, which seems like great value .
Vyacheslav Glazkov vs Charles Martin, Sun 5am
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Supporting the Wilder-Szpilka show is another heavyweight world title contest, between Glazkov and Martin. The strap they are contesting was made vacant when boxing’s playground-politicians stripped Fury of one the titles he had just won because he chose to have a rematch with Wlad Klitschko rather than take on the mandatory challenger, Glazkov.
The hype for the fight isn’t helped by the anonymity of both men. Glazkov (21-0-1, 13 KOs), a Ukrainian, has some creditability for winning the 2008 Olympic bronze medal, although this might by tainted somewhat by having to share that medal with Britain’s David Price. If Glazkov wins this Saturday there could be a huge domestic dust-up with Klitschko down the line.
On paper Charlie Martin (22-0-1, 20 KOs) looks like the real deal: American, six foot five and unbeaten, with a KO ratio of 87%. On film this guy looks like a slightly flabby amateur jogger. It shouldn’t be surprising really, Martin only started boxing age 22 and went pro three short years ago age 26.
How has Martin got a world title shot? God only knows, but it wasn’t from big lad beating highly ranked opposition. Glazkov will have way too much for the Yank and for the Ukrainian KO win is appealing. However, The Czar has more victories from opponents quitting on their stools than by legitimate knockouts so maybe we should just stick the simple for a Glazkov win.
David Haye vs MarK De Mori, Sat, 10pm
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And then there is the return of David Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) in London. The former multiple-weight world champion used to have Wilder for a sparring partner and called off two bouts with Fury because of injuries before his ‘retirement‘. Now they are both world champions and Haye wants their titles. The first step is beating De Mori (30-1-2, 26 KOs).
The Australian initially trained himself in his garage by watching Youtube videos but now, at least, is trained by a professional coach in Croatia. The impressive record of De Mori is down to him fighting ‘John McJourneymans’ and ‘Neil Nobodys’, but that didn’t stop Deontay Wilder getting to the top.
Haye is known for his speed and power, and he has a fearsome 86% KO ratio considering he has been in seven world title contests and four European title bouts. The times that Haye has really struggled to impose himself is against the much bigger guys but the Brit has a height advantage over this opponent.
De Mori looks like a bodybuilder and he might think he has a chance of out-powering Haye, who has been down in four previous bouts, but the Australian has also lost by KO earlier in his career. Unless Haye’s old injuries flare up again the Brit should have the fight finished in the early going. Back Hayemaker at to win in rounds 1-3.