Charles Martin likes and respects Adam Kownacki.
The former IBF heavyweight champion hopes Kownacki can come back and thrive after suffering a fourth-round, technical-knockout loss to Robert Helenius two months ago. After what Martin witnessed from a ringside seat March 7, he simply isn’t sure that’ll be possible for a previously undefeated fighter who has beaten him.
“I don’t know, man,” Martin told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t know. He was pretty f--ked up. He was pretty bad. He got knocked down the first time, and then he got up too quick. He was already hurt, and then he went down again with the boom! Boom! Boom! The 1-2-3. He knocked him down again. He got up, but then he was just beating him into submission. That wasn’t a good thing for him. He took a lot of punches.”
Brooklyn’s Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) was heavily favored to defeat Finland’s Helenius entering a fight FOX aired from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs) knocked Kownacki to the canvas twice in the fourth round, when their scheduled 12-rounder was stopped because a defenseless Kownacki was taking unnecessary punishment.
Kownacki’s chin had been one of his best attributes during a run that included victories over Artur Szpilka, Iago Kiladze, Martin, Gerald Washington and Chris Arreola.
“He caught him with that counter punch,” Martin said, referring to Helenius. “It was two counter punches, back-to-back. His punches, he had that snap on them. You know what I mean? He was snapping them. That hurts. He was breaking his ass down. He had to back up in that first round. He had to back up a little bit, like, ‘Yo, this ain’t no average Joe.’ Because usually he tries to walk everybody down. But Helenius, he was throwing them punches. He was snapping ‘em.”
Martin (28-2-1, 25 KOs) and Kownacki went back and forth throughout an all-action 10-round battle Kownacki won by unanimous decision in September 2018 at Barclays Center. Kownacki won that fan-friendly fight by the same score, 96-94, on all three cards.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Martin said of Kownacki’s loss to Helenius. “It was just because I was off for a long time [before fighting Kownacki]. It’s just a different thing because the counter punch is everything. When you’re catching guys in between these shots, that’s what really hurts a man. You can pummel a guy and beat him up all you want, but if they’re bracing for it, you know, it’s fine if you can see it.
“[Helenius] did an awesome job. Helenius is a big dude, a big man that can punch. So, anything is possible. He went out there and showed that on that night. It was spectacular.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.