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Friday, January 17, 2014
Artur Szpilka resolves visa problems

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Heavyweight Artur Szpilka, turned away by the Department of Homeland Security upon his arrival at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago last Sunday and immediately sent home to Poland, has secured the proper visa and is scheduled to fly back to the United States on Friday night.

Time was of the essence for Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) to get his paperwork ironed out because he is scheduled to face Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, in an important 10-round fight between potential heavyweight title challengers on Jan. 25 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The HBO-televised fight is the co-feature to junior lightweight titleholder Miguel Angel "Mikey" Garcia's first defense against Juan Carlos Burgos.

According to Warriors Boxing promoter Leon Margules, who promotes Szpilka, the United States Embassy in Poland granted Szpilka the proper visa to the U.S. on Thursday and he is scheduled to land in Chicago on Friday night.

"We're ecstatic that with the help of U.S. and Polish authorities we could get this accomplished and now Artur will get his big opportunity to fight on HBO," Margules told ESPN.com.

Although Szpilka will have made an unexpected roundtrip to Poland – each leg is about a 12-hour flight – during a critical time in his training camp, Margules said he did not think it would hamper him for the fight.

"First off, he's a heavyweight, so there was no worry about the weight, because you get bloated sometimes on the plane," Margules said. "Second of all, he had a great training camp and he's been training in Poland since he had to go back for a few days. So he really only missed one or two days of training camp. He's in terrific shape and he will still get in eight days before the fight. So he will still have plenty of time acclimate himself."

"Was it an ideal situation? No. Obviously, the plan was to have him here last Sunday and he was supposed to spar with (former title challenger) Fres Oquendo this week. So he missed that. And instead of one 12-hour flight, he has to do three. So it's not perfect."

Szpilka will stay in Chicago for the weekend, where his team has been waiting for his return, and then they will fly to New York for fight week on Monday.

The fight will be Szpilka's seventh in the United States, including two of his four bouts in 2013, both exciting brawls in Chicago against Chicago's Mike Mollo, both of which Szpilka won by knockout.