The undefeated heavyweight says it’s his time to shine as he headlines at Barclays Center versus former world title challenger Chris Arreola Saturday night on PBC on FOX.
When Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki fights, count on him to bring a crowd— at least, that is, for as long as his fights last.
His supporters arrive in droves of red and white, swilling beer, and breaking out in songs of patriotism, transforming the typically placid atmosphere of a boxing undercard into a Breughel-esque hootenanny.
But pity the fighters who come after Kownacki, including the main-event participants, because by the time Kownacki has raised his hands in victory, chances are that the boisterous Polish contingent has already made their way out of the arena.
On nights when the main event is strong, the crowd remains packed-in and vibrant. On other nights, Kownacki’s sudden absence can leave vast swaths of the arena looking like the empty husk of a honeycomb.
Finally, this Saturday, Kownacki supporters will have a reason to stay for the main event, when the cherubic contender takes on a rejuvenated Chris Arreola at the former’s home-turf of the Barclays (FOX, 8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). It will be the first time Kownacki, who grew up in the Polish stronghold of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, headlines in his career, a result he believes that came about organically.
“I think it was the natural thing to happen” said Kownacki, who now lives in Bellmore, Long Island and who has made eight appearances at the Barclays. “My last fight a lot of my fans left (after I fought) and the crowds keep getting bigger and bigger so…I remember when Barclays first started building me. Being a kid from Brooklyn, it was a big thing. August 3rd I’ll make it happen. Amazing. It’s a dream come true. It’s something I worked hard for.”
The Polish support their boxers, as evidenced by the careers of Andrew Golota and Tomasz Adamek, Polish heavyweights who were built into successful draws. Kownacki recalls going to his forbears’ fights as a child and says he would be lying if their achievements did not linger in the back of his mind. “It definitely brings back memories,” he said.
“I think Al saw that (I was drawing bigger crowds), and he was like, ‘let’s make this kid a headline, let’s see what he can do,’” Kownacki said. “My last couple of fights were good, against top notch opponents and I think this fight with Chris Arreola is a chance to make a huge statement in the heavyweight division.”
“ ... This kid is fighting all the guys that Deontay fought and he’s beating them up quicker. ” Undefeated Heavyweight Contender - Adam Kownacki
While Kownacki concedes that Arreola’s best days are behind him — the Mexican heavyweight came up short in title shots against Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne, and current WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder — he is motivated by using this fight as a measuring stick against Wilder, whom Kownacki hopes to challenge soon. Wilder knocked out Arreola inside eight rounds in 2016. Kownacki aims to do so more impressively.
Last January, Kownacki blitzed Gerald Washington in the second round, whereas it took Wilder five rounds back in 2017.
“(Wilder’s) the main guy,” Kownacki said. “I think that’ll make a statement in the public’s eyes that this kid is fighting all the guys that Deontay fought and he’s beating them up quicker — that’ll definitely put me in the spotlight.”
Kownacki realizes he has yet to achieve anything substantial in the sport. Until recently, he trained in the gym while picking up construction shifts and moonlighting as a bouncer at night clubs in Greenpoint and the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t easy to pay the bills (and box at the same time),” Kownacki said. “But I knew if I could keep training hard that this would eventually be my job and career and it is.”
It wasn’t until around the time that he fought countryman Arthur Szpilka in 2017 that Kownacki could afford to concentrate solely on boxing. Even then, the struggles were palpable.
“I lived with my parents for a while,” Kownacki recalled. “My wife had two jobs to support ourselves. It was tough. But she knew I had the talent and everyone believed in me. We’re going to focus on the little stuff and you just focus on boxing and training. They were always there for me. That added extra motivation for me not to fail.”
Kownacki is expecting a son on August 29.
“Yeah, it’ll be an early birthday present for him,” he said.
Kownacki is also pleased to see pudgy heavyweights with fast hands like himself are suddenly in vogue. To that he can thank Andy Ruiz, the Mexican heavyweight who stunned the world by stopping British superstar Anthony Joshua in New York City in June.
“The secret is out of the bag,” Kownacki said, laughing. “Andy capitalized on (his opportunity). It was the right time (for him). But I’m on my own path. I have to make sure I capitalize on it.
“My name on the big billboard…Hopefully it’s the start of a huge career of being in a big player in boxing. In the whole world.”
For a closer look at Adam Kownacki, check out his fighter page.
- Kownacki vs Arreola
- Adam Kownacki