Interview and photos by Przemek Garczarczyk
“We’ll see what Szpilka can and cannot do on Friday, February 1. I heard that he’s already scheduled his next fight three weeks after we meet in Chicago. Hell, he is sure about himself, isn’t he? Thanks for extra motivation, Artur. I watched couple of his fights but it didn’t help me because people he was fighting were not comparable to my style, my power,” says heavyweight Mike Mollo (20-3, 12 KOs) who on February 1 will fight the new Polish heavyweight hope Artur Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs) in Chicago’s UIC Pavilion. Mollo-Szpilka fight will be a part of an ESPN Friday Night Fights card, but it won’t be televised live in United States, only in Szpilka’s native Poland. The UIC Pavilion is located at 525 S. Racine, at the corner of Harrison and Racine on the campus of University of Illinois-Chicago.
Four years ago, I was sitting ringside in Chengdu, China watching you fighting for a top spot in WBC rankings. You were one, maybe two fights away from a title fight. And then Mike Mollo almost vanished from the boxing scene. What happened?
This is exactly what happened – I vanished. What’s important are the facts why. I lost not in the ring but way outside the ropes. I lost signing bad manager and promotional deals. I did have signed contracts to fight Chris Arreola, Seth Mitchell and Franklin Lawrence. All of these fights were cancelled a week or earlier before the actual fight date. Arreola just decided to not fight me, the event where I supposed to battle Mitchell was cancelled, and the Lawrence people decided not to let me fight for bogus medical reasons. It was a big joke.
Your health was one of the main topics before signing the deal to fight Artur Szpilka in Chicago.
It was simple – Franklin’s people were expecting an overweight fighter not ready to fight. I was opposite of that – ready and ripped. The entire test was OK and then people from the commission decided there was something what they don’t understand with the CAT scan. They weren’t saying that I couldn’t fight – just that they’re “not qualified” to make this decision. I said fine, let me get somebody who is, we can be in the clear in couple of hours. Nobody wanted to hear this. It was tragic – three straight fights, three training camps lost. It can break anybody.
What do you know about Poland’s Artur Szpilka? Just twelve professional fights, only 22 years old but already considered by many as a new, exciting power in the heavyweight division.
We’ll see what Szpilka can and cannot do on Friday, February 1. I heard that he’s already scheduled his next fight three weeks after we meet in Chicago. Hell, he is sure about himself, isn’t he? Thanks for extra motivation, Artur. I watched couple of his fights but it didn’t help me because people he was fighting were not comparable to my style, my power. Maybe his fight with Owen Beck, but maybe not, because Owen is not the same fighter he was decade ago. I didn’t see anything special in Szpilka – he moves well, but has no punching power, gets very open when he throws the punch. I know now that he is a bully who likes to provoke, starting with press conferences. He shouldn’t do this against me or we’ll have a fight before the fight.
What would you say to the people who are saying that after all these problems with cancelled fights, you’ve lost your heart?
I would say that they don’t know what they are talking about. You can ask my coach, Danell Nicholson, he knows me the best. I can’t wait to prove it against Szpilka. I doubt we even need to have judges for this. This is important fight for him, but also for me. It can bring me back where I was. I’m only 32 years old, staying in the gym, working out, knowing that I will have chance to be back. This is the fight for me.