Adam Kownacki hopes to challenge Deontay Wilder for the WBC heavyweight title one day at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
For now, the popular Polish contender will settle for facing a veteran heavyweight with the same ambition as him. BoxingScene.com has learned that Brooklyn’s Kownacki and Finland’s Robert Helenius have agreed to meet in the main event of a March 7 card at Barclays Center.
The completion of the deal depends upon approval from FOX, which would televise Kownacki-Helenius as the headliner of a three-bout broadcast. American Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) and Germany’s Christian Hammer (25-6, 15 KOs) also were considered before Helenius (29-3, 18 KOs) was chosen as Kownacki’s opponent.
This will mark the fifth straight fight at Barclays Center for Kownacki, who has developed a considerable fan base at his hometown arena. In his last appearance there, the 30-year-old Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs) beat veteran heavyweight Chris Arreola (38-6-1, 33 KOs, 1 NC) by 12-round unanimous decision in an entertaining slugfest August 3.
Helenius’ handlers had been negotiating for him to fight former WBO champ Joseph Parker (26-2, 20 KOs), a fight DAZN would’ve streamed as part of the Mikey Garcia-Jessie Vargas undercard February 29 from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Instead, Helenius opted to box Kownacki.
In his most recent fight, the 6-feet-6 Helenius bounced back from a knockout loss to Gerald Washington. Helenius beat Brazil’s Mateus Osorio (9-5, 9 KOs) by second-round technical knockout in that November 30 bout in Narva, Estonia.
The 36-year-old Helenius was beating Washington on two of three scorecards when Washington (20-3-1, 13 KOs) knocked him out in the eighth round July 13 at The Armory in Minneapolis. In Washington’s previous fight, Kownacki knocked him out in the second round last January 26 at Barclays Center.
Unlike Breazeale, Helenius at least is coming off a win. The 34-year-old Breazeale hasn’t fought since Wilder viciously knocked him out in the first round of their May 18 bout at Barclays Center.
The heavy-handed Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) needed just two minutes and 17 seconds to beat Breazeale, who was Wilder’s mandatory challenger. A right hand by Wilder left Breazeale flat on his back, unable to continue.
Kownacki, meanwhile, has beaten Polish rival Artur Szpilka, Iago Kiladze, Charles Martin, Washington and Arreola in his past five fights.
Kownacki was offered a spot on the pay-per-view undercard for the Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch February 22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. He chose to headline a show FOX will make available on free TV rather than fighting on that FOX Sports Pay-Per-View card.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing