Adam Kownacki Is In An Empire State of Mind

The Polish-born, Brooklyn-bread heavyweight once again takes center stage this Saturday night under the bright lights at Barclays Center—where he faces former title contender Gerald Washington in the co-feature of a PBC on FOX card.

Adam Kownacki is trying to master his own game of Pole position.

From Kownacki’s perspective, the unbeaten heavyweight contender is just two victories away from earning a shot at WBC champion Deontay Wilder. The Polish-born, Brooklyn-bred Kownacki will take his next step toward challenging Wilder on Saturday night.

That’s when Kownacki will encounter one of Wilder’s numerous knockout victims, Gerald Washington, in a 10-round, co-feature on the FOX-televised card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Washington was winning on one scorecard before Wilder knocked him out nearly two years ago in Birmingham, Alabama.

The 29-year-old Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs) wants to beat Washington even more impressively than Wilder was able to defeat the former USC football player.

“He’s a very good athlete,” Kownacki said. “He’s [6-feet-6], he moves well. But on paper, I think I’ve fought tougher competition. I think [Iago] Kiladze was a better boxer than him and moved better than him. Charles Martin was stronger than him. So, on paper, it should be an easier fight for me. But it’s boxing, so you can’t do stuff on paper.”

Washington, 36, has a chance to get back in the championship mix after suffering back-to-back, technical-knockout losses in 2017 to Wilder and Jarrell Miller, Kownacki’s close friend. Last June, Washington (19-2-1, 12 KOs), of Vallejo, California, out-boxed John Nofire to win a 10-round unanimous decision.

Kownacki-Washington will be one of two bouts broadcast by FOX before a main event Saturday night in which WBA “super” welterweight champion Keith Thurman will fight for the first time in 22 months. Thurman is scheduled to face Josesito Lopez in a 12-round, 147-pound title fight.

“He’s looking to come back, too,” Kownacki said regarding Washington. “If he beats me, that gets him in the top 10. And I can’t let him do that, so I’m really focused. I took this fight because I’ve taken my last couple fights like they’re championship fights. So, this is like a championship fight for me. I’m just working really hard, so that he can’t beat me.”

Last September, Kownacki out-worked former IBF heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Like Washington, Martin (25-2-1, 23 KOs) had hoped to use a victory over Kownacki as a springboard back toward the top of the heavyweight rankings.

Kownacki’s ever-reliable chin and high work rate were too much for Martin to overcome in an entertaining encounter. Kownacki won by unanimous decision.

The 6-feet-3 Kownacki made sure to get in better condition for this fight with Washington than he was when he overcame Martin in their 10-rounder.

Kownacki weighed in at 263¼ pounds the day before he met Martin. He expects to weigh approximately 255 pounds when he steps on the New York State Athletic Commission’s scale Friday afternoon.

As usual, Washington will look like an Adonis at that weigh-in. Kownacki will be a bit flabby—make that proudly flabby.

It’s not a Mr. Olympia contest or a bodybuilding contest. I mean, I know that probably helps and people probably look at you a little different. But I know I’m prepared to go all 10, 12 rounds in my fights. I know I’m always in great shape, even though I might not look like I am. Undefeated heavyweight contender, Adam Kownacki

“It’s not a Mr. Olympia contest or a bodybuilding contest,” Kownacki said. “I mean, I know that probably helps and people probably look at you a little different. But I know I’m prepared to go all 10, 12 rounds in my fights. I know I’m always in great shape, even though I might not look like I am. I don’t think the way you look is key.

“It’s a sport. It’s boxing. Don’t get me wrong, it helps. Everybody that sees me now is like, ‘Yo, you look great.’ So, I’ve been working harder on that stuff and I’ve been working hard to change my physique up a little bit. But that’s not the main key for me. I’d rather do two hours of boxing than do two hours at the gym, lifting weights and stuff. The key for me is boxing, not to look like Zeus or something.”

It also is important to Kownacki to keep his weight up because when he fights bigger, strong opponents, he must overcome a size disadvantage. He noticed Wilder grew tired toward the end of his 12-round draw with Tyson Fury, who out-weighed Wilder by nearly 50 pounds when they entered the ring December 2 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“These guys are huge,” Kownacki said. “When you have [Anthony] Joshua and Wilder, you know, 6-6 and 6-7, being 220 [against them] is insane. You saw it in the fight with Tyson Fury and Wilder. At 212, Wilder, even though he has that crazy power, you could see that the weight had him really tired. You could see he was really tired in the 12th round. The weight was the reason.

“And I saw Fury’s fight against Steve Cunningham. I actually fought on the undercard. The reason Fury won that fight was because he was leaning on him from the sixth, seventh rounds, and exhausted him. So, 10, 20 pounds would be a huge difference. Speaking to my coach and my team, I think my prime weight would be 255, 250. That would be the optimal weight for me.”

The optimal wait for Kownacki’s shot at Wilder is until no later than the end of this year.

That would of course require Wilder to defeat Fury in their immediate rematch, which has yet to be scheduled. If he and Wilder can continue winning, fighting for a heavyweight title at Barclays Center would be a dream come true for Kownacki, who moved from Poland to Brooklyn when he was seven.

“It would be a big fight at Barclays, but it’s also about politics and whatever fights would be before us,” Kownacki said. “It looks like [Wilder and Fury] will fight in April or May. I’m looking to fight in June, and hopefully we can do it by the end of the year. The timing would be perfect. It would be great.”

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

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