Deontay Wilder
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder defends his belt successfully for a third time at Barclays Center on Saturday night. Getty

Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KO), who has emerged as the top contender to unify the heavyweight crown, retained his WBC title with a vicious right-handed, ninth-round knockout of Arthur Szpilka on Saturday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

The knockout was so powerful that Szpilka laid flat on his back for several minutes before being removed from the ring on a back board and taken to the hospital for evaluation.

“I did what I had to do,” Wilder said after the fight. “I gave the people a knockout. My right hand is back.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, Wilder found himself in a dogfight with the left-handed Polish fighter. The champion held a slim lead on all three scorecards before scoring the knockout for his third successful title defense since winning the belt exactly one year ago on Sunday from Canada’s Bermane Stiverne.

Wilder landed 75 of 250 (30 percent) total punches while Szpilka landed 63 of 230 shots (27 percent). Wilder connected with 36 of 158 power shots (23 percent) and Szpilka landed 25 of 124 (20 percent).

Szpilka gave Wilder some trouble with his southpaw stance and looked like the more aggressive fighter at times. However, when Wilder was able to connect with a snap jab or a right hand, its power and damage on Szpilka was clear. Wilder is the stronger fighter who was able to land enough punches to stay ahead the fight until he came with one punch good enough to send everyone home.

The fight was not void of drama as WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Tyson Fury entered the ring following the match to challenge Wilder. The 6-foor-9, 247-pound Brit has a rematch lined up with Wladimir Klitschko after defeating him in the belts in November. He shouted toward Wilder “Any time, anywhere. I’ll fight you in your own backyard after I beat Klitschko.”

“We all know fury is just a phony, this is just an act,” Wilder said. "I don’t play. This isn’t wrestling. This isn’t the WWE. When you do step in that ring with me, I promise I will baptize you.”

Next up, Wilder is expected to take on his mandatory opponent, Russian contender Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KO). Povetkin, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, was on hand at Barclays Center, which could host the event in May or June.