By Przemek Garczarczyk
Not many – especially European – 23-year-old heavyweights gather accolades like Poland’s Artur Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs), who on February 1st will challenge experienced and hungry “Merciless” Mike Mollo (20-3, 12 KOs), in Mollo’s hometown of Chicago. Szpilka (his name means The Pin), a very quick and slick southpaw, gets compared to a heavyweight Vic Darchinyan and has garnered rave reviews from names like Monte Barrett and even Lennox Lewis. Nobody questions his skills and potential, many (even if his native Poland) have problem with his brashness and attitude. In this Fightnews.com interview, you don’t have to wait long to see them both…
Are you born stubborn and very blunt, or just a product of media creation?
100 percent natural. Inside and outside the ring, with friends, in the restaurant, with my girlfriend Kamila – I’m the same man, not some fake. What you see is what you get. I got my core values a long time ago. There’s nothing more important for me than loyalty. I never broke my word and never will for people who deserve it. There’s not even an option, just like there’s no option I can be defeated by Mike Mollo. I was born to win the world heavyweight championship, the first one for Poland. Haters and other fighters should just accept this.
Don’t you think that you have to win first to deserve to be so brash, so sure about yourself? At least when it comes to boxing?
How can you switch this off? How can I turn myself on and off? You are who you are. I’m not building up my confidence; it was always part of who I was. And we are not talking only about boxing. But in this sport, if you believe you can do it and you are stepping between ropes, you’re already halfway there.
There are instances when all this confidence turns against you. Like your latest press conference brawl, all the x-rated words watched by now more than a million viewers on YouTube. You exploded because your coach Fiodor Lapin wasn’t there?
Coach Lapin is an exceptional man, somebody who is very special for me. I never had a person like that in my life. He’s my mentor, his words mean more for me than anything. They just hit me harder than any fist. Nobody knows me better – just a look and coach knows that I did something wrong, did something I should not. And nobody controls my emotions better. Even now, ten days after this brawl with Krzysiek (Zimnoch, who Szpilka will fight just three weeks after the Mike Mollo battle), coach is still different, still mad at me. I can see that and that eats me up. Coach Lapin was not there at the press conference with me, he was busy training my team colleague Krzysiek Wlodarczyk (WBC cruiserweight champion). And only after all this commotion and all these fist flying around happen, I found his text message on my phone. Just two words: “Be calm.” It literally broke me down, but it was too late to do anything about it.
Switching what happened in Poland to your February 1 fight against Mike Mollo in Chicago, was it your idea of scheduling two fights, on two continents, 7 hour time difference, in just three weeks? Announcing now your fight on February 23 in Poland, it could be easily read as more than confidence. Maybe even as disrespecting Mike Mollo, who’s done more in boxing than you have.
This is exactly what I want. This is how fast I want to advance with my carrier. No bullshit fights against nobodies. There are even more plans after these two fights in February. Ambitious plans, I will surprise a lot of people again. Mollo could be a tough fight but I’m not impressed with his skill set. He’s got a dangerous left hand, nothing more, no speed, but of course I have to wait until February 1 to prove my words. I expect wrestling lessons and some foul play in the ring from Mike. I know Mollo will be determined, he will do everything he can to beat me, but determination will not be enough. Different continents are also no problem because I’e been =training for the Mollo fight and the next one, on February 23, for almost three months. Mike Tyson also fought very often.
Mike Mollo was not mincing words, saying that he will not tolerate being disrespected by your words or head butts in his hometown of Chicago…
I’m not even thinking about it. Just boxing. Flying in on February 26, my trainer will be with me, it’s about winning, not personal like with Zimnoch. I never fought in Chicago with so many Polish fans in attendance. I know that Andrzej Fonfara is a Polish Prince there, but we know and like each other, from Polish national junior camps. Funny guy from Warsaw, who supports a different soccer team, but we have the same love – boxing. Can’t wait to be there.