12 Rounds With … Adam Kownacki

Brooklyn-based prospect looks to take the next step towards becoming the first Polish-American heavyweight champion when he faces Iago Kiladze this Saturday.

Adam Kownacki

After knocking out heavyweight contender Artur Szpilka in July, unbeaten Adam Kownacki looks to take the next step in a title run Saturday night in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

Adam Kownacki climbed the heavyweight ladder with a devastating fourth-round KO of Polish-born heavyweight contender Artur Szpilka this past July.

Now the 6-foot-3 Kownacki (16-0, 13 KOs) looks to move up a rung, pursuing his fourth straight knockout against 6-foot-4 Iago Kiladze (26-1, 18 KOs) this Saturday night in his sixth appearance at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

“Babyface” took some time out of training to talk about his upcoming bout—which can be viewed exclusively in the U.S. on Showtime Sports’ YouTube channel and Showtime Boxing’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The main card that airs live on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT features two world title fights, including a 147-pound showdown between Errol Spence Jr. and Lamont Peterson.

Can you discuss how you finished off Szpilka and how that victory resonated with your Polish fans?

In the fourth round, my right hand drew blood from Szpilka’s nose, and I noticed he was getting tired. So I whispered into his ear, “Are you remembering the Deontay Wilder fight?” He was shocked. His eyes went wide like, “What the [expletive] he talking about?’

After that, I knocked him out a couple of seconds later. I pressured and stopped him like I knew I would. I had to prove that I’m the best of the Polish heavyweight fighters. I took out Szpilka in less than half the time that Deontay Wilder took him out.

Now it’s time to continue my goal of getting a title shot. I'm a man on a mission to become the first Polish, Polish-American heavyweight champion of the world. No one will stop me.

What do you know about Iago Kiladze and how will this fight break down?

I’m going to do what I do best, and that’s to bring the pressure and the fight to him. He’s a good fighter moving up from cruiserweight and he may have some good movement. I’m training out of Bellmore Kickboxing Academy in Long Island with Keith Trimble.

I’m feeling great. I’ve been working on cutting off the ring, going to the body and breaking him down.

I think that by Round 7, I should be able to take him outta there. You guys at the PBC have a knockout of the month, right? You should have one of those, because I’m going to have one of those this month.

I understand you spent time sparring with Alexander Povetkin?

I was with Alexander Povetkin for four weeks in November in Moscow, and I’m in great shape. It was good to see where I’m at.

Obviously, Povetkin is older and beyond his prime, being 38, but he still has it. He’s a great technical boxer and I picked up some things that will make me a better fighter.

How and when did you come to live in Brooklyn from Poland, and was the transition difficult?

Jobs were very hard to get at the time in Poland, and my parents received green cards and left Lomza, Poland, for Brooklyn in 1996 when I was 7 to provide a better life for my brother and I.

Immigrating to this country, not speaking the language, life was tough early on in Greenpoint, the neighborhood I grew up in. It was a big Polish community in Brooklyn, back then. I was a little bit fatter than most kids, so I got bullied a lot. It was hard.

I'm a man on a mission to become the first Polish, Polish-American heavyweight champion of the world. No one will stop me. Poland-born and Brooklyn-based heavyweight Adam Kownacki

How did you get into boxing?

I actually started with karate, first, at the age of 7 or 8. But I also grew up watching Andrew Golota fight, which sparked my interest in boxing. One day, I was walking to the movies with a cousin and I saw a boxing gym and got intrigued.

My cousin and I started going two or three time a week, training. My cousin stopped, but I continued to go by myself. Then I transferred to Gleason’s gym at 16 and entered the Golden Gloves.

I won the New York Golden Gloves championships in 2006 the first time when I was 17. I was second in 2007 and 2008 and won again in 2009. As a junior in high school in the finals, I fought a teacher from a different school. I dropped him twice.

How did you come by your nickname?

I was an amateur and I had a baby face. I was sparring with [Brooklyn-based contender] Taurus Sykes at Gleasons, and he called me that all the time and it just stuck, you know.

How frustrating was it to suffer a fractured hand during your fourth pro fight that required two surgeries?

Being out for almost three years, it was tough walking around and people asking you when are you fighting again and what’s going on?

The community I grew up in always pushed me, so the thought of retiring never crossed my mind.

My fans and my friends always wanted to see me fight again, so it was about waiting out the process and for my hands to heal.

How uplifting was it to be invited to work with Wladimir Klitschko?

That was awesome. Klitschko was training for his [fourth round KO of Jean Marc Mormeck, March, 2012.]

It was at a five-star resort in the mountains of Austria, and I learned a lot about what big time boxing is all about. Hopefully, I’ll be in Klitschko’s position pretty soon.

How would you describe your relationship with Jarrell Miller?

Last time we sparred was the month that he fought and knocked out [Mariusz Wach in November.] We did eight rounds together, but we’ve sparred for 10 or 11 years.

I’d say it’s been a thousand or more rounds. We both grew up in Brooklyn and were always around Gleason’s Gym.

I wasn’t surprised that he knocked out Gerald Washington [eighth-round stoppage in July.] I knew he was gonna do that. I was actually surprised that it took him that long.

Under what conditions would you fight Miller?

There are a lot great fights in the heavyweight division, and it would have to be worth something for us to fight. We’re two, very good, up and coming fighters from Brooklyn who are on the verge of becoming heavyweight champions.

I think it would be a great fight to have in Brooklyn, down the road, and if we fought at Barclays Center it would be a great show and a sellout. You look at the buildup for a Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight and it’s like that.

It’s something that you have to wait for and it takes time. This fight would be a fight that everyone would want to see. It doesn’t make so much sense right now, so it’s better to wait for the money it would [generate] later on.

For a closer look at Adam Kownacki, check out his fighter page.

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