Live viewers at the UIC Pavilion and those who watched on ESPN3.com got a special post-Friday Night Fights treat tonight, as Artur Szpilka and Mike Mollo went to war in the Windy City.
Friday Night Fights was a bit dreary this week, as Carlos Molina and Antwone Smith scored easy decision wins over shot veterans Cory Spinks and Jose Luis Castillo, but those who stuck around and went online to stream the live main event from the UIC Pavilion in Chicago were rewarded for their patience, as Artur Szpilka and Mike Mollo put on a bloody show in a heavyweight brawl.
Szpilka came off the canvas two times and scored a knockout of Mollo in the sixth round of a fight that had the crowd roaring, and rightly so. Mollo, who turns 33 in 10 days and hadn't fought in almost two years, looked out of shape, and, frankly, like a guy who'd been retired for almost two years. With leggings on under his trunks, you'd have been forgiven for thinking that the Oak Lawn fighter was going to be easy pickings for Poland's Szpilka, a somewhat hyped southpaw prospect with a known mean streak and some power.
Instead, Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KO) floored Szpilka in the first round, though he also left the round with a cut due to a clash of heads, which the referee got all over Mollo about. The referee being on Mollo's case was a recurring theme -- he dropped an F-bomb on Mollo in that first round, and later took a point away in a ridiculous call for Mollo "pushing" Szpilka's head down. Mollo would suffer another bad cut in the fight from a Szpilka elbow. Combined, the gashes had him visit the ringside doctors several times, but the fight always continued, as Mollo's blood stained the canvas and everything else near the ring.
With Szpilka taking over a bit and Mollo physically fading, Mollo mustered all he had and put it on a wild left hook, putting Szpilka down hard late in the fifth round. But Szpilka (13-0, 10 KO) battled through that, rose to his feet again, and survived the round.
In the sixth, with Mollo looking for another big shot, Szpilka landed a gorgeous straight left hand that felled Mollo like a redwood, and ended the fight.
The only complaint about this toe-to-toe battle would be with the referee, whose behavior toward Mollo was incompetent at best, and incompetent and unprofessional at worst. Sure, he'd just stood on his feet throughout the entire Molina-Spinks snoozer, but his actions had a lot of eyebrows raised from fans watching on Twitter and our site. That might be something the Illinois commission wants to look into, even if it did not affect the outcome of the fight.