By now, Adam Kownacki expected to be back on the winning track after a rematch with Robert Helenius on July 24 in Las Vegas.
But boxing being boxing, his bout on the undercard of the third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was postponed with the entire show until October 9, leaving him to dial back the intensity of his camp when he should have been peaking.
“I was sparring twice a week, so we'll cut it back to once a week and do a lot less rounds,” said Kownacki. “I was already doing 10-12 rounds; now we'll cut it back to five-six, to not let all the good work go to waste.”
So instead of getting his shot at redemption against the only man to defeat him, Kownacki is in Florida with coach Keith Trimble, getting some different looks at the Sanford MMA gym in Deerfield Beach. But before you ask, no, Kownacki is not looking to start putting on four-ounce gloves and start working on his jiu-jitsu game.
“No, no, no,” he laughs. “I love boxing too much. I have a lot of friends in MMA, and I appreciate the sport a lot, too, but I've been boxing my whole life, and I don't see me switching over anytime soon. I'm like 0-20 against the guys in little Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu matches, so I'm definitely not gonna switch over.”
It’s a good call, especially since things are going so well for him in the boxing world. How so, considering his last fight in March 2020 was an upset fourth-round TKO loss to Helenius? Well, he left the bout with no excuses, dusted himself off and had one request for his team: to get “The Nordic Nightmare” back in the ring ASAP. And while the ASAP part of it didn’t work out too well thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, Kownacki has the fight he wanted coming up in October, and if he evens the score, he’s right back in the mix for a crack at a heavyweight title. It says a lot about the Poland native as a fighter that he didn’t go in another direction, chalking up the loss to a bad night while not wanting to see Helenius again.
“I thank Al Haymon and Keith Connolly for making that fight happen,” said Kownacki. “Without them believing in me, they would have given me someone else, because they know it took some money for him (Helenius) to accept the rematch. So, they trust and believe in me, and, for me, I'm a fighter and my goal is to be a world champion and to fight and beat the best. So, if I can't get rid of Robert Helenius, how will the fans or somebody else believe in my beating Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua? I gotta beat him to make that statement more viable.”
Everything he’s saying is spot on, but in this day and age, taking the path of least resistance is preferable to going back into the fire with someone who put a mark in your loss column for the first time. But Kownacki seems to have taken the defeat well, noting that there were mistakes made while not seeing that setback as a permanent detour from his ultimate goal.
“Right after the fight, I watched that fight over and over and over again and I was so mad at myself,” he said. “I was a little bit too anxious to get him out of there. I wanted to make the fans happy and everybody to be proud of me, and I just got caught coming in. Robert Helenius is a veteran, he's been boxing for a long time, he's a very good technical boxer and he capitalized on my mistake. I messed up and it was a good learning lesson. Obviously, my chin is not made of granite (Laughs), and that was a good reminder for me that I am human and while I could take a good shot, you can't beat human biology. Enough force will put you on your ass.”
Especially in the heavyweight division. It’s why fans tune in and why they packed Barclays Center in his adopted hometown of Brooklyn to watch Kownacki headline. Now, though, the 32-year-old has to take his show on the road for his Las Vegas debut, and on a card stacked with the big men of boxing, it’s a showcase that he plans on making the most of. If he does, 2022 is going to look very interesting for “Babyface.”
“Yeah, for sure, but first I have to take care of business in 2021,” Kownacki said. “I got to get back in the win column and we'll see what happens with the other fights. Hopefully, I'll put myself in line for a title shot. I was very close up until the last fight and my goal is to become the first Polish heavyweight champion of the world and hopefully that will happen in 2022.”