By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – A reporter expressed concern late Saturday night about what would happen if Adam Kownacki can’t tighten his defense before he fights Deontay Wilder.
The mild-mannered Kownacki acknowledged that he needs to work on moving his head and slipping punches. His manager, Keith Connolly, gave a more assertive answer following the popular Polish contender’s 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over veteran heavyweight Chris Arreola on Saturday night at Barclays Center.
“He’ll take the right hand [from Wilder], he’ll walk through him and he’s gonna knock him out,” Connolly said during the post-fight press conference. “That’s what’s gonna happen. He’s gonna knock him out.”
Connolly’s confidence stems from Kownacki’s obvious ability to take a punch, his relentless nature on offense and the power of his own right hand.
The 30-year-old Kownacki likely will have to win a couple more bouts before he is in position to challenge Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs). The unbeaten WBC champion also will have to win back-to-back rematches over Luis Ortiz (31-1, 26 KOs, 2 NC) and Tyson Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) to have an opening in his schedule.
That’s fine by Connolly because Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs) proved Saturday night that he is a draw in his native Brooklyn. An announced crowd of 8,790 attended the first card he headlined at Barclays Center, where they can count on supportive Polish fans continuing to attend his fights.
“I think tonight Adam proved that he’s a franchise at Barclays,” Connolly said. “You know, the place was packed. I’ve never seen so many red shirts in my life. It was honestly one of the best atmospheres I’ve experienced at the Barclays, and I’ve seen a lot of good fights here. So, I would think probably two more of these types of fights, hopefully a little bit easier.
“Maybe we’ll have to do a little bit better matchmaking for him. … I think a fight with Deontay Wilder, in this building, I don’t think there’d be one seat that wasn’t sold. I would say probably the end of next year, we would be fighting Deontay Wilder for the title.”
Wilder watched from ringside Saturday night because he was part of FOX’s broadcast team for its tripleheader. Kownacki knows the Alabama-based knockout artist saw some flaws in him that Kownacki needs to address in his next training camp.
“I’ve just gotta keep working on it, you know?,” Kownacki said. “I worked on it for this fight. I didn’t show it maybe as much as I should have. But hopefully next time we’ll be a little bit better and I will surprise you guys a lot better. I’ll train a lot better and [be] more crisp.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.