By Keith Idec
Adam Kownacki considers his technical-knockout victory over Artur Szpilka last summer as the win that legitimized him as a heavyweight contender.
Kownacki thinks beating Charles Martin on Saturday night should lead him to a world title shot. Martin is a former IBF heavyweight champion who has lost only to Anthony Joshua, but he hasn’t fought a ranked opponent since Joshua knocked him out in the second round of their April 2016 fight at O2 Arena in London.
Martin (25-1-1, 23 KOs) has taken training for this fight very seriously because he knows a loss to Kownacki (17-0, 14 KOs) will prevent him from making a run toward another title shot. Kownacki is considered a potential opponent for WBC champion Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) at some point in 2019, particularly if a Wilder-Joshua fight doesn’t materialize.
“As you all see, Charles Martin is very focused,” Kownacki said, “so I’m prepared for the best Charles Martin that he brings. And if I could beat the best Charles Martin, I think I deserve a title shot, you know? So that’s the focus I’m going in [with]. I’m looking at Charles Martin as if he still has the title, as if he is the champion, so I’m getting ready.
“I’m sparring a lot, running, doing my workouts. I’m looking at him as if he is still a champion, so beating him I think puts me in line for a title shot. What else is there to prove? I beat a contender. Now if I beat a former world champion, getting a shot at a world title would be I think the next step in my career.”
The 32-year-old Martin, a powerful southpaw from Carson, California, will end a 13-month layoff when he encounters Kownacki at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He hasn’t fought since he knocked out journeyman Mike Marrone (21-9, 15 KOs) in the first round of a July 2017 fight in Alexandria, Louisiana.
The Polish-born, Brooklyn-based Kownacki knocked out Georgia’s Iago Kiladze (26-3, 18 KOs) in the sixth round of his last fight, January 20 at Barclays Center. Kownacki is ranked No. 10 by the WBC and No. 12 by the IBF.
Showtime will televise the Kownacki-Martin match as part of a tripleheader from Barclays Center (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Former champions Danny Garcia (34-1, 20 KOs) and Shawn Porter (28-2-1, 17 KOs) will square off for the vacant WBC welterweight title in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.