Adam Kownacki will get his shot at redemption.
BoxingScene.com has learned Kownacki and Robert Helenius have agreed in principle to a deal for a heavyweight rematch that’ll take place sometime early in 2021. Their contracts aren’t finalized, but Kownacki and Helenius have committed to a second fight FOX could televise as early as January.
Helenius upset the previously unbeaten Kownacki by fourth-round technical knockout March 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Polish-born, Brooklyn-bred Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) was consistently listed as a 25-1 favorite to defeat Finland’s Helenius in their scheduled 12-rounder. Helenius withstood Kownacki’s early onslaught and dropped Kownacki twice in the fourth round, which forced referee David Fields to stop the action 1:08 into that round.
The 31-year-old Kownacki’s knockout defeat derailed him from pursuing the heavyweight title shot he had hoped to secure in 2021. Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs) wasn’t contractually obligated to give Kownacki a rematch, but Kowancki wants an opportunity to avenge his lone loss and it makes financial sense for both sides to fight again.
The 36-year-old Helenius was convinced in the immediate aftermath of his reinvigorating victory that Kownacki didn’t really want to fight him again.
“I don’t know why he would want to fight me again after what I did to him,” Helenius told BoxingScene.com in April. “He may say that he wants to fight me again, but deep inside, I don’t think so.”
The Helenius-Kownacki rematch will be one of the fights early in 2021 that FOX executives hope will help the network regain some of the boxing viewership it attracted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Nielsen Media Research, the peak viewership of the Helenius-Kownacki fight was 1,681,000. An average of 1,675,000 viewers watched what was the main event of a tripleheader.
The 6-feet-3, 265¼-pound Kownacki seemingly began wearing down his 6-feet-6, 238¾-pound opponent until Helenius hurt him with a left-right combination that knocked Kownacki to one knee 20 seconds into the fourth round. Fields missed the punches Helenius landed and didn’t count that as a knockdown, but a woozy Kownacki didn’t stay on his feet much longer.
A right-left combination sent Kownacki flat on his back just 10 seconds after he went to one knee. Kownacki courageously got right to his feet again, but Helenius unleashed a barrage of flush punches that backed a defenseless Kownacki into the ropes.
That’s when Fields stepped between them to stop their fight.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.