By Luke Furman
Polish heavyweights Krzysztof Zimnoch (18-0-1, 12 KOs) and Artur Szpilka (20-1, 15 KOs) are far from friends.
Back in 2013, the two young heavyweights actually brawled at a press conference to announce a fight between the two of them. The fight never happened. It was cancelled after Szpilka was forced to withdraw after injuring his hand during a knockout victory over Mike Mollo.
This coming Saturday in what is a major fight in Poland, Szpilka will challenge WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Zimnoch defeated Wilder in the 2007 World Amateur Championships.
Despite the bad blood between, Zimnoch is rooting for Szpilka to bring the world title back to Poland.
"The fight between Wilder and Szpilka pin can safely go in two directions. Of course the American is the favorite, but what Szpilka does depends only on him. What is important is how Szpilka will come out, how focused he will be, his defense and tactics. He has a good corner and certainly his coach already knows what he must do to win," Zimnoch said.
"Undoubtedly, Artur will have to avoid the right hand in order to avoid getting knocked out. Wilder throws the straight left from a distance and then immediately comes the right. Szpilka has a difficult task, but that doesn't rule him out [from winning]. Just imagine how great it would be for our country if the world title in the heavyweight division belonged to a Pole. Is he able to succeed? I hope he does. Though we do not like each other, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for him."
Ironically, Zimnoch returns on February 20 in Poland against former Szpilka opponent Mike Mollo (20-5-1, 12 KOs). Szpilka and Molla had two very tough wars with each other. The two fighters were down in both contests, which Szpilka won by knockout.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.