Adam Kownacki is not abandoning his dream of becoming the first Polish heavyweight to win a major title.
However, he fully acknowledges that he has entered sink or swim territory heading into his next fight.
The Brooklyn-based slugger returns to the ring following back-to-back stoppage losses to Robert Helenius. Kownacki begins the comeback tour against Turkey’s Ali Eren Demirezen as part of a July 30 Showtime tripleheader from Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, barely five miles and a few subway stops from his Greenpoint home.
“It’s my biggest fight right now. It’s a must-win if I want to stay relevant in the heavyweight division,” Kownacki told reporters during a recent virtual press conference to discuss the event. “I’m really focused. I’ve been training very hard back so I can go in there and get that win back home on July 30.”
Headlining the show is another favorite son of the venue, as Philadelphia’s Danny Garcia (36-3, 21KOs) returns to Barclays for the ninth time to face Jose Benavidez (27-1-1, 18KOs) in a junior middleweight bout.
The event will mark the eleventh career appearance for Kownacki (20-2, 15KOs) at the boxing hotspot and home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. Earlier fights at the famed locale saw a pudgy but promising heavyweight who was quickly on the rise from prospect to dangerous contender. The pinnacle of his rise came in a furiously paced twelve-round win over former title challenger Chris Arreola in an August 2019 fight where they combined to land 667-of-2,172 punches, both figures for the all-time mark at heavyweight.
Everything came crashing down in a March 2020 fourth-round knockout to Robert Helenius, who repeated the fight with a one-sided sixth-round stoppage last October in Las Vegas. The rematch saw what many viewed as a shell of the old Kownacki, to the point of concerns over continuing his career.
The 33-year-old heavyweight insisted that it was just a matter of ditching developed bad habits and returning to the tools that previously allowed him to rise to prominence.
“The footwork is really what we’re focused on,” Kownacki revealed of his current training camp. “I remember being in camp with [Hall of Fame former heavyweight champion] Wladimir Klitschko, and thinking ‘Wow, this guy has amazing footwork.’ He had really good footwork. I just got away from it.
“I know I can punch, so I’d just stand in there and go blow for blow. For the most part in my career, I came out on top. The past two fights, it ended that way. Now I have to go back to the basics, the footwork and the double jab.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox