By Keith Idec
BoxingScene.com has learned that organizers are seriously considering replacing Polish heavyweight Artur Szpilka with fellow Pole Izu Ugonoh as Dominic Breazeale’s opponent for a nationally televised February 25 fight.
The Szpilka-Breazeale bout, a 10-rounder, is supposed to be part of a free FOX broadcast that’ll feature a title defense by unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) in the main event at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Sources have informed BoxingScene.com, though, that FOX executives are concerned about airing a bout between two heavyweights coming off knockout defeats.
A final decision is expected soon, but Ugonoh is eager to supplant Szpilka and get great exposure on American television. Wilder will fight Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs) in Wilder’s first fight since having surgeries to repair injuries to his right hand and right biceps five months ago.
The 6-feet-3, 230-pound Ugonoh (17-0, 14 KOs), who signed late last year with manager Al Haymon, will make his “Premier Boxing Champions” debut on the Wilder-Wawrzyk undercard even if he doesn’t replace Szpilka as Breazeale’s opponent.
Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) hasn’t fought since Wilder, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, knocked him out in the ninth round of their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event last January 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The 30-year-old Ugonoh, a former kickboxer who refers to himself as “a black Pole,” is a talented, powerful prospect trained by Australia’s Kevin Barry, David Tua’s former trainer. He is a Las Vegas stablemate of New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (22-0, 18 KOs), the newly crowned WBO heavyweight champion.
Breazeale (17-1, 15 KOs), of Alhambra, California, hasn’t boxed since IBF champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) stopped him in the seventh round of their June 25 fight at O2 Arena in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.