The silver lining to being out of the ring for this long is that Adam Kownacki was always aware of the fight waiting on the other side of his forced hiatus.

A full 19 months will have passed by the time Kownacki (20-1,15KOs) once again meets Finland’s Robert Helenius (30-3, 19KOs) this Saturday in an attempt to avenge his lone career defeat. The two faced each other last March at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Kownacki previously emerged as a local attraction only for his world to come to a crashing halt following a fourth-round knockout loss.

Even with the lengthy delay, Kownacki did his part to avoid falling back into bad habits. Too much is at stake in what he considers the biggest fight yet, though one where he just doesn’t plan to be at the biggest size of his career.

“Instead of growing a belly, I grew a beard,” Kownacki quipped to "I expect to be around 260 for this fight. For me, for this fight, I think that’s a good weight. “Knowing we’d be fighting again kept me motivated. 

"I know that I’m ready. I’m focused only on Robert Helenius. I can’t wait to get in there and beat him up.”

The fight serves as the chief support to more repeat business in the heavyweight division. The main event pits lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21KOs) versus former titlist Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41KOs) for a third time, with both bouts appearing on a Pay-Per-View event presented by ESPN+ and Fox Sports from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Kownacki has aspirations of stealing the show, whipping himself into better shape than has been the case for his past two fights. The 6’3” Polish heavyweight was a career-fluffiest 266 pounds in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Chris Arreola in their August 2019 slugfest which set several Compubox records for the weight division. Kownacki was 265 ¼ in his loss to Helenius, two pounds more than in his September 2018 narrow points win over former heavyweight titlist Charles Martin.

Kownacki plans to be much closer to peak physical condition than has been the case over the past three years. A win on Saturday puts the 32-year-old contender back in the mix in a heavyweight division that remains red hot. Even with the uncertainty of knowing when the rematch would take place, just knowing it was in the works was good enough to remain ready.

"Mission first is getting that "W" back on my record," notes Kownacki. "What happened, happened. Time to put that behind me, which will be easier once we get the win [this] weekend."

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox