By Jake Donovan
For as long as he’s served as a reliable ticket seller, Adam Kownacki has never enjoyed the honor of being the star of the show.
That changes this Saturday, and at a place he’s long called home.
The unbeaten Poland-born, Brooklyn-based contender serves as the A-side attraction atop a Fox-televised tripleheader live from the famed Barclays Center. Kownacki will played the venue for the ninth time in his career as he faces three-time heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola (38-5-1, 33KOs).
“I feel blessed. I grew up there, I grew up in Brooklyn,” Kownacki (19-0, 15KOs) said of the honor to fight in the main event at Barclays, which will mark his fourth straight appearance at the boxing hotspot. “It’s a big deal to be the headliner. Having all my friends, all my family, my community being there having my back.
“It’s very rewarding.”
Come Saturday, all nine Barclays appearances will have taken place in a span of his last 11 fights. Of the two “away” fights, one landed at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, with many of his friends and family members making the relatively short road trip for his July 2017 4th round knockout win of countryman Artur Szpilka.
The most recent Barclays bash for the unbeaten rising contender came this past January, also airing live on Fox versus another California heavyweight in Gerald Washington, whom he dusted off in just over four minutes worth of ring time.
Polish flags have waved in his honor for many a night at Barclays, with that level of support needed more than ever against what he considers his most dangerous assignment to date.
“I think Chris is a great fighter. He’s faced a lot of the biggest names in the heavyweight division,” notes Kownacki of the veteran contender, who has won his last two starts since returning to the ring last December. “All of the great fighters he’s been in there with, he’s beaten a lot of them and came up short (in title fights).”
A title fight was on the table earlier this year but not in a manner which neither the 30-year old contender nor his handlers preferred. A chance to face then-unbeaten titlist Anthony Joshua arose when Jarrell Miller—a longtime friend of Kownacki—tested positive for multiple banned substances for a planned June 1 fight at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
Even with the money offered, Kownacki wasn’t keen on taking such a fight on short notice. The assignment went to Andy Ruiz, who shocked the world in scoring a 7th round knockout to become the first-ever Mexican boxer to claim the heavyweight crown.
Ruiz is now heading towards a rematch with Joshua sometime in the 4th quarter, while Deontay Wilder—the division’s lone other and longest-reigning titlist—is tabbed for another dance with Luis Ortiz in a rematch to their March 2018 war at Barclays.
Even without the promise of a title fight in his immediate future, the plan for Kownacki is just to keep winning fights like this to grow as a pro and be ready for the right opportunity.
“I know I have to beat Chris Arreola to face those big names at the top of the heavyweight division,” notes Kownacki. “I’m looking at the Top 10, Top 5 type guys. I’m ready for 12 rounds but can also end it quick. It’s a great matchup for the fans.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox