By Kieran Mulvaney
Watch: Fight Highlights
Shortly before the co-main event, the Theater at Madison Square Garden turned into a sea of red, as what seemed to be a sizeable percentage of New York's Polish community loudly voiced its enthusiasm for heavyweight Artur Szpilka. But no amount of vocal support was enough to prevent Szpilka from losing his unbeaten record via 10th round stoppage to undefeated Philadelphian Bryant Jennings.
The first four rounds were largely even but surprisingly uneventful, both men moving and feinting and attempting to set up shots, but Jennings blocking much of Szpilka's offense with his gloves, and Szpilka showing some deft head movement to slip many of Jennings' blows.
As the bout progressed, however, the American's superior technique and conditioning began to come into play. A left hand to the solar plexus caused Szpilka to wince and drop to his knees, and although he beat the count and staged a determined fightback in the eighth, as he grew weary, his head became a sitting target which Jennings hit with increasing rapidity.
Even so, the bout seemed likely to last the distance until a short Jennings left hook snapped Szpilka's head around and the Polish fighter slumped into the ropes. Referee Mike Ortega correctly ruled a knockdown, but although Szpilka rose to his feet before the end of the count, he looked completely spent. Ortega allowed the bout to continue, but not for long; Szpilka was slumped over and taking further punishment to the head and body when Barry Jordan, the medical director for the New York State Athletic Commission, walked along the apron to signal his desire for an end to the punishment. Ortega stepped in and halted the contest with 40 seconds remaining.
Szpilka fell to 16-1, and Jennings registered his 10th knockout in 18 career victories without a loss.