One wild night: Two world champion thrones at stake in New York heavyweight spectacle
The path to an undisputed heavyweight champion takes shape when unbeaten American Deontay Wilder faces Poland’s Artur Szpilka and the US’s Charles Martin meets Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Glazkov
Undefeated American Deontay Wilder defends his share of the world heavyweight boxing throne on Saturday while two more unbeatens seek another crown and rival champion Tyson Fury watches at ringside.
The path to an undisputed heavyweight champion, something not seen since Britain’s Lennox Lewis in 2000, takes shape in New York when Wilder (35-0 with 34 knockouts) faces Poland’s Artur Szpilka (20-1 with 15 knockouts) and US southpaw Charles Martin (22-0 with one drawn and 20 knockouts) meets Ukraine’s Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-0 with 13 knockouts).
“There are four great heavyweights that I'm excited to see,” Lewis said. “The heavyweight division is wide open right now. Now it's time for the guys who were standing by the wayside to show they want to be the next undisputed champion.”
Wilder makes the third defence of his World Boxing Council crown while Glazkov and Martin meet for the International Boxing Federation title that Britain’s Fury dropped after defeating Wladimir Klitschko for his share of the throne.
Fury holds the World Boxing Association title and will fight a lucrative rematch with Klitschko rather than having kept the IBF crown to fight its mandatory opponent, Glazkov.
The year could see Saturday’s winners meet in a few months as Fury and Klitschko figure to do, and the winners of those bouts meet in an undisputed showdown late in 2016.
Wilder hopes to become the first American heavyweight with an undisputed reign since Riddick Bowe in 1992 and join a list that includes legends Muhammad Ali, George Foreman and Mike Tyson.
“Lennox was one of those guys that set the standard. He's a hard act to follow. But I love a challenge,” Wilder said.
“Once you have that strong American heavyweight to unify the division, to hold all the titles, that's when I feel true stardom will come. Once I unify the division, I think it will be a dramatic change.”
Wilder, whose lone trip to the distance came in his title-winning unanimous 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne last January, says he is not overlooking Szpilka, but adds, “I'm very confident about what I'm going to do Saturday.”
Szpilka, a 26-year-old southpaw whose lone loss came in 2014 at New York to American Bryant Jennings, would become Poland’s first heavyweight champion.
“He can say whatever he wants. You have to prove it in the ring,” Szpilka said. “The pressure is on Deontay because I just want to be a world champion. He already is. I don't just want to win. I want to win in spectacular fashion.”
Glazkov, 31, has won seven fights in a row and never been knocked down. He sees the crown as far more than Fury’s reject castoffs and has his own title sweep dream.
“I want all of the belts,” Glazkov said. “This is the first step towards my dream.”
Martin, 29, has stopped his past 12 foes and won 16 in a row since a 2013 draw.
“I'm looking forward to taking what's mine,” he said. “I'm a bull. I'm a nice person but when it's time to go, I have an angry heart.”