In 2019, popular Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki was within shouting distance of his dream. Check out the best new bookmakers for betting on boxing.
He was undefeated in 20 fights, dispatching unknown Joshua Tufte, veteran Artur Szpilka, journeyman Gerald Washington and winning decisions over Charles Martin and Chris Arreola. No Hall of Famers here, but a reflection of the modern heavyweight division.
After the Areola bout, Kownacki heard the whispers.
Win one more, and a world title shot is yours.
His one more would have to be against Robert Helenius, a 6-foot-6-inch giant nicknamed “The Nordic Nightmare.”
Helenius hadn’t haunted anyone for years. Eight months before tangling with Kownacki, Helenius lost to Washington.
Kownacki was confident and favored to win on March 7, 2020, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Maybe too confident. His fan base was present – ready to cheer him on. He appeared to have the edge early against Helenius, though the Swede was boxing well. Kownacki worked the body while getting tagged with lefts.
His confidence growing, Robert Helenius had come to win. He stunned Kownacki with a big right hand in round four. Kownacki went down, but the referee incorrectly ruled it a slip. Seconds later, a combination sent Kownacki to the canvas. The fight was over and out soon after – as was Kownacki’s title shot.
A rematch had to happen. Kownacki said he’d be in better condition for the sequel, he was, but his shoddy defense has more leaks than a 50-year-old toilet. Helenius was feeling good. His big win in fight one had given him a new belief in his abilities. Kownacki entered the ring a shaky favorite. His earlier loss had been considered a fluke by many.
But after getting rocked in the opening stanza, it was pretty clear that his confidence, still brittle after his first career defeat, hadn’t recovered.
Helenius peppered Kownacki with jabs and hooks. Kownacki hung in, but he was a beaten fighter by the end of the bout.
Told to retire by some, Kownacki rested.
He’ll be back in the ring July 30th against 2016 Turkish-German Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen. The 6-3-inch, 260-pound fighter has won 15 of 16 fights, including five in succession. His most recent win was an eighth-round stoppage of Washington. Check out the top sportsbooks for betting on boxing.
Kownacki understands what he’s up against.
“This is the biggest fight of my career,” said Kownacki a few weeks ago at a press conference. “I have to win to stay relevant in the heavyweight division. I’m training hard, and I’m ready to win.”
Kownacki,33, says he’s moved on from his back-to-back defeats.
“I’m very excited to be back in the ring, especially back home in Brooklyn at Barclays Center,” said Kownacki. “I’m ready to show the world that Robert Helenius just caught me at a complicated time in my life. I had a good 20 fights, I hit a bump in the road. ”
Demirezen, like Kownacki, is easy to hit. It could come down to who can take it and keep coming.
Kownacki is again the favorite.
Win or hang them up.