By Keith Idec
Luis Ortiz isn’t the only heavyweight wondering what would’ve happened had he accepted an opportunity to fight former champion Anthony Joshua on short notice.
Adam Kownacki turned down that chance, too, but not only because he also believed he’d challenge WBC champ Deontay Wilder in the foreseeable future. Kownacki wasn’t in good enough condition to cram in a five-week training camp and feel properly prepared for a fight of that magnitude June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
Andy Ruiz Jr. and Kownacki have similar body types. Ruiz was more confident about accepting what turned out to be a career-changing fight, however, because he had boxed about a week before the Joshua fight abruptly became available due to Jarrell Miller’s PED ordeal.
“I could’ve had an opportunity to fight Anthony Joshua, but I was out of shape, so I didn’t [take] the challenge,” Kownacki said during a conference call Tuesday to promote his fight against Chris Arreola on Saturday night. “So, from now on, I’m in boxing and that’s it. Because a title shot could come around the corner on a couple weeks’ notice, because of injuries and accidents happen.”
After watching Ruiz upset Joshua by seventh-round technical knockout, Kownacki really regretted not taking that fight. The Polish-born, Brooklyn-bred contender doesn’t have a style similar to the more skillful Ruiz’s approach, but he now knows Joshua was vulnerable to getting knocked out that night.
“I was upset I was not in any shape,” Kownacki said. “I was not in boxing shape. I wanted the fight. It was my birthday and my wife was pregnant, so I enjoyed life a little bit. Which I regret, because boxing’s my full-time profession. And since that call came, I was like, ‘Yo, I’ve gotta get in shape and make sure that never happens again.’
“So, it was a learning lesson, which maybe stopped me from achieving my goals faster than I would have. But at the time, I wasn’t ready, so it was the right choice. … That’s what life is about. It’s about going through our experiences, learning new lessons and making sure you’re in shape. So, I’ll definitely be in shape now. And if that call comes in the near future, I’ve gotta be ready.”
The 30-year-old Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) is plenty ready to go up against Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC). Their 12-rounder will headline FOX’s tripleheader from Barclays Center in Brooklyn (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.