By Lem Satterfield
Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller looks nothing like fellow heavyweight contender, Adam “Babyface” Kownacki, whom he nevertheless calls “my Polish twin.”
The 6-foot-3, 260-plus-pound Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs) estimates he’s sparred “more than a thousand rounds” with 6-foot-4, 300-plus-pound Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs), a Brooklyn, New York, native with whom Kownacki’s training for his January 26 clash with 6-foot-6 Gerald Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn as Premier Boxing Champions returns to FOX (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.).
A Polish-born Brooklyn resident since childhood, Kownacki said he began sparring at the age of 15 with Miller, who has stopped 11 of his past 12 opponents and is pursuing a title shot against 6-foot-6 IBF/WBA/WBO titleholder Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) of England.
The muscular, 36-year-old Washington is a former football player who returns to the site of his eighth-round TKO loss to Miller in July 2017, having rebounded with June’s unanimous decision over 6-foot-6 John Wesley Nofire (20-2, 16 KOs).
“People may think we’re not tough fighters based on appearance, and I’m maybe a little more ripped than Adam, who has a softer look,” said Miller of Kownacki, who has four knockouts in his past five fights. “But I think me and him have beaten up more people with [ripped abdominal muscles] than we have people that look like us, so our records more or less speak for themselves.”
Kownacki is 7-0 with four knockouts at Barclays, where his last fight was September’s unanimous decision over left-handed former world champion Charles Martin (25-2-1, 23 KOs) before his boisterous partisan Polish fans.
“Adam is one of my favorite up-and-coming fighters. People always tell me you have to tap yourself on the shoulder and appreciate how far you’ve come,” said Miller, 30, of his 29-year-old “younger brother.”
“I don’t do pat myself on the back, but when I see Adam, I’m like, ‘Wow, look how far he’s come.’ He’s doing this damn thing, and I’m doing this damn thing too. But that’s the kind of appreciation you have for a brother.”
Kownacki meets Washington on the undercard of WBA “super” welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) ending a 22-month, injury-caused ring absence with his eighth defense and third straight and fourth overall appearance at Barclays against third-time title challenger Josesito Lopez (36-7, 19 KOs).
“Adam’s gone through everything, coming from Poland, not having a lot,” said Miller of Kownacki, whose run of four straight knockouts ended against Martin. “But Adam overcame a lot of obstacles just like I have, and that’s why me and Adam get along so good. That’s my Polish twin.”