December 9, 2015
December 9, 2015
Deontay Wilder

Esther Lin/Showtime

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UNDEFEATED WBC heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder will make the third defense of his title against brawling Polish contender Artur Szpilka on Saturday, January 16, 2016, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, live on Showtime in the USA (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

The 12-round main event between the power-punching Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Szpilka (20-1, 15 KOs), of Wieliczka, Poland, will be the first heavyweight title fight in Brooklyn since James Jeffries knocked out James Corbett in the 23rd round on May 11, 1900, on Coney Island.

Jeffries fought in all three of the Brooklyn heavyweight title fights, which were the fourth, fifth and seventh world heavyweight title fights of the modern gloved era.  All three took place on Coney Island, two in 1899 and the final in 1900.

It will be Wilder’s first fight in New York and his ninth overall on Showtime Networks.  Wilder is the first United States-born heavyweight champion since 2007.

“I’m excited about coming to New York City, I’m excited about displaying my talents and I’m excited about fighting at Barclays Center,” said Wilder. “I want to thank my opponent Artur Szpilka for accepting this opportunity that I’m giving him.  I wish him luck – he’s going to need it.  I look forward to winning over the Polish fans after I beat him.  I know he’s a southpaw and he tends to give up when things get tough in the ring, going off the fight he had with Bryant Jennings.  He doesn’t have heart when it gets tough.  I look forward to giving the fans plenty of action and excitement on Jan. 16.”

“It feels amazing to get the opportunity to fight Deontay for his heavyweight world title,” said  Szpilka.  “I can’t wait to be the first ever Polish heavyweight to win a world title.  I’ve dreamed about this many times, and now my time has come.  I’ll be ready to put on a show for my fans and take his belt from him on Jan. 16.”

“It should be an exciting night on Jan. 16 when the ‘Bronze Bomber’ defends his title, for the first time at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, against rugged brawler Artur Szpilka,” said Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment.  “Brash and outspoken, the Polish fighter looks to derail Deontay and become the first Polish heavyweight champion of the world in boxing history.  This is Deontay’s third title defense in 12 months and a victory will lead to a major clash in his next bout.”

“I’m very excited that Artur Szpilka is getting an opportunity to become the first heavyweight champion in the history of Poland,” said Leon Margules, President of Warriors Boxing.  “We’re thrilled that Artur will be able to fight for the title in a boxing-rich city like Brooklyn and in front of what will undoubtedly be a strong showing of support from his Polish fans.”

“Showtime has been the home of many of the biggest and best heavyweight world title fights of the last 30 years, and we are proud to continue that legacy with Deontay Wilder,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Showtime Sports. “Deontay has used his rare blend of raw power, athleticism and charisma to become one of the can’t-miss boxers of this era.  Credit Artur Szpilka for accepting the challenge.  Szpilka is a young, strong southpaw with good power and a flair for showmanship, and he is eager to make the most of his first world title opportunity.  January 16 is sure to be an exciting night on Showtime.”

“It took 115 years, but Heavyweight Championship boxing is back in Brooklyn,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “I spent some time with Deontay at the Jacobs-Quillin fight last Saturday and he can’t wait to defend his title at Barclays Center, but it won’t be easy. Artur Szpilka is a great fighter and is sure to be well represented by the ‘Little Poland’ neighborhood of nearby Greenpoint. The borough is ready for Heavyweight Championship boxing. It was worth the wait.”

The 6-foot-7 Wilder will be making his third title defense and fourth fight in 364 days. The 30-year-old won the WBC belt with a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne on Jan. 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, in his first professional fight to go past the fourth round.

Wilder successfully defended the belt against Eric Molina (KO 9) last June 13 and most recently against Johann Duhaupas (TKO 11) on Sept. 26.  Both of the title defenses took place in his home state of Alabama.

The last heavyweight champion to fight four times in 12 months was Lennox Lewis in 2000-01.  Lewis was also the last undisputed heavyweight champion.

“I’m looking forward to being the next undisputed heavyweight champion and the most active heavyweight champion in history,” Wilder said.  “I’m also active once I get into the ring.  In my last fight, I landed an average of 30 of the 53 punches that I threw each round.  That was more than double what Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko landed, combined.”

Before turning pro in November 2008, Wilder won the bronze medal at heavyweight for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games.  He is the last American male boxer to medal in The Olympics.

The aggressive-minded, 6-foot-3 Szpilka has won four consecutive fights since suffering the only loss of his career to then-undefeated Bryant Jennings in 2014.  The 26-year-old rebounded with a 10-round unanimous decision over former cruiserweight world champion Tomasz Adamek in 2014 and stoppage victories over Yasmany Consuegra, Manuel Quezada and Ty Cobb in 2015.

A pro since 2008, the southpaw first gained notice when he stopped the once-touted Owen Beck in four rounds in 2011, then unanimously outpointed former world title challenger Jameel McCline the following year.

Szpilka has honed his boxing skills under the tutelage of Houston-based trainer Ronnie Shields. While he is still predisposed to brawling and coming forward, Szpilka has developed into a more complete fighter under Shields and one that could be the toughest test of the young world champion’s career.

Brooklyn has a deep history in heavyweight boxing, including hometown heavyweight champions Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson, Riddick Bowe, Shannon Briggs and Michael Moorer.  In addition, Brooklyn-native and 1984 Olympic Gold medalist Mark Breland serves as one of Wilder’s coaches.