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Gary Shaw on Jennings-Szpilka: If people want to fight, they fight

By Przemek Garczarczyk
Photo: Przemek Garczarczyk

Promoter Gary Shaw, president of Gary Shaw Promotions and promoter of heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings spoke about the mouth-watering January 25 HBO clash between unbeaten 29-year-old Jennings (17-0, 9 KO) and unbeaten 25-year old Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KO) in the MSG Theater.

“This fight was about putting two exciting, undefeated fighters on HBO, in Madison Square Garden, in New York City. Szpilka brings an undefeated record, big heart, charisma and fanatical Polish fans. Jennings brings hard work, dedication, mental toughness…and #4 WBC heavyweight ranking. It means a lot when you realize that after the WBC decision. The heavyweight throne is empty,” said Shaw in a Fightnews.com interview.

The Szpilka-Jennings fight started on Twitter. A couple more of this way of doing business and the promoter’s job will be obsolete…

I hope not. It started when Mariusz Wach, another Polish heavyweight, decided to say no when we thought everything was settled. To be perfectly clear, I have no beef with Wach’s promoter Mariusz Kołodziej from Global Boxing in North Bergen. He was a perfect gentleman, did everything what he could to make this fight happen. I would do business again with him in the heartbeat.

When Szpilka saw it was NOT happening, he started to challenge Jennings on Twitter and Bryant told me about it. Then it was quick. I called Leon Margules, who co-promotes Szpilka with Andrew Wasilewski from KnockOut Promotions.

Jennings immediately said “OK.”

We also wanted to do this fight against Dereck Chisora, but nothing happened. If people want to fight, they fight. Some are just talking about fighting big names, but when push comes to shove, you can’t find them anywhere.

What did you know about Artur Szpilka, to recommend him for this fight to MSG and HBO?

I knew about his heart and explosiveness from two Mike Mollo ESPN fights; I knew about his charisma, his rock star status in Poland. There’s no doubt that beating Szpilka elevates Jennings’ status. We also know that although Philly is a lot closer to New York City than Poland, MSG Theatre will be full of fanatic Polish supporters. We are OK with that. On the end of the day, there are only two guys in the ring. Fan support does not win you the fight.

Your name was not on the top of the list when people in business were speculating who will be the next promoter of Bryant Jennings. But here we are, Jennings-Szpilka on HBO in your promotional debut with him.

Bryant is a good, very dedicated heavyweight fighter. He knows the meaning of hard work and discipline and these attributes more than just make up for his lack of amateur experience. When you see Bryant Jennings, you see exactly what he is – the same mentally hard, very fair man with great sense of humor. He wants to be recognized by his ring achievements and not because he’s running his mouth. I have a big respect for people like this. And I have no doubts that pressure of fighting on HBO will not get to him.

Talking about pressure, the official Jennings-Szpilka announcement arrived the same day of the WBC’s Vitali Klitschko ruling with the heavyweight throne becoming vacant. Bryant is the #4 WBC ranked fighter. We all know the possible implications.

It’s true – after the WBC decison, the Szpilka fight became so much more important for Bryant. Nobody will deny that. We are not sure about Bermaine Stiverne’s status because of his litigations with Don King. Chris Arreola has to look down at the rankings, at #3 Deontay Wilder or #4 Bryant Jennings. That’s the reality of boxing. So, yes, saying that January 25 is an important date for Bryant Jennings, for both fighters actually, will be a big understatement.




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