I cannot reasonably favor Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KO) over any top heavyweight. Szpilka (20-2, 15 KO) is a solid fighter technically, but an unknown who did not appear to have the footwork to overcome his reach disadvantage.
Casual observation suggests that Wilder only won two rounds convincingly. A quick glance at punch statistics corroborates this as Wilder landed 75 of 250 compared 63 of 230 for Szpilka. Over nine rounds that translates to a negligible two-punch difference in thrown punches and only a one-punch difference in punches landed. The fight was even. With tougher competition, those numbers will favor Wilder even less.
Wilder excused the competitiveness on the fact that he had not fought nor sparred many southpaws. On the contrary, Szpilka's southpaw stance made him more vulnerable to Wilder's right hand, made his lead hook less effective because of the added space in normal stance, and gave Wilder the opportunity – which he did not take – to easily keep at an outside angle jabbing over Szpilka's lead hand while evading his left.
Rather than straight rights, Wilder elected to throw sweeping right hands, which frequently missed, for much of the time. With his hands low, Wilder spread his legs to lower himself to Szpilka's level. Beginning at a favorable distance to use his reach to lead, Wilder preferred to allow Szpilka close the gap before countering. Wilder's low connect percentage is more striking because he was not using a jab to maintain distance, in which case frequently missed jabs still do the job of keeping space. That is, Wilder was not busy enough to justify the inaccuracy.
In getting knocked out in round nine, Szpilka did nothing wrong. He had been having success with sweeping left hands and had to take chances lunging in to land it. Wilder missed a jab that nonetheless jolted the head of Szpilka on the follow through and allowed him to measure Szpilka for a short right cross that followed, hitting Spilka in the chin and sending him crashing to the canvas with his eyes closed.
The knockout was pure luck as Wilder never had control of the fight nor displayed any ring generalship. It was very unclear to me what Wilder's strategy was other than that it was not working and that I had seen it previously. Whereas Klitschko was invincible with his height and reach, Wilder fights as if these advantages are actually handicaps. Alas, if these fighters were just his size he would not be burdened to bend so low. Ah, if his arms were not so long he could be more effective with his close-range counters.
.@BronzeBomber knocks out @szpilka_artur in round 9 and retains his WBC heavyweight title #AndStill #WilderSzpilka https://t.co/aB8J3liY8T— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) January 17, 2016
Tyson Fury's acting performance in the ring, meant to disrupt Wilder's post-fight interview, was unremarkable. Something about “...beat you in your own back yard...bum” into the microphone. At the moment, Fury is to rematch Klitschko who has exercised his rematch clause. For Wilder there is Alexander Povetkin, his WBC mandatory.