Brooklyn Heavyweight Adam Kownacki is collecting some impressive wins versus some interesting mutual opponents of the division’s champions
Some of the world’s greats originated from Brooklyn, as well as many of the world’s greatest.
Michael Jordan. Carmelo Anthony. Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter. Bobby Fischer. Eddie Murphy.
If we just stick to boxing.
Mike Tyson. Zab Judah. Riddick Bowe. Shannon Briggs. To name some.
With rising Heavyweight Adam Kownacki, are we seeing a new potential great? Or are we seeing a solid U.S. Heavyweight in the midst of a great run?
Still a little too early to tell for the upstart, but in a division that needs live bodies for its ongoing resurgence the concern is the most difficult tests could arrive too early for Kownacki.
In the co-main event of last Saturday’s Keith Thurman vs. Josesito Lopez WBA Welterweight title defense, Brooklyn’s Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) solidified his presence in the Heavyweight rankings behind a one-sided second-round TKO victory over former title challenger Gerald Washington (19-3-1, 12 KOs).
Washington quickly succumbed to the relentless pressure applied by Kownacki, as the 29-year old nearly landed four times as many punches as the former USC Trojan in the first round – 46 to only 12.
Washington recovered in between the rounds and briefly attempted to fend off the oncoming Kownacki with an extended combination to open round two. Kownacki stood his ground and immediately resumed his forward-marching attack. He caught Washington with a straight right hand that sent him into the ropes, and seconds later a barrage of punches left Washington on the canvas.
After ending his 10-count at seemingly the last possible second, referee Harvey Dock sternly advised Washington his time to show he was still in the fight was brief. A short Kownacki flurry a few seconds later forced Dock to step in and keep his word.
Kownacki spoke on the game plan that fueled the punishing stoppage, “I’m a pressure fighter. I worked on sitting down on my punches and I proved that I have great power when I do that.”
The Poland-born fighter also reiterated what his convincing performance versus a former world title challenger may have suggested when he said, “I want that belt!”
How fast exactly should Kownacki be pushed?
Kownacki’s blowout victory versus Washington is attention-grabbing. In contrast, Washington fought WBC champion Deontay Wilder and contender Jarrell Miller in consecutive fights in 2017, going five and eight rounds, respectively. The recent win also answers questions about how Kownacki might perform against the division’s taller champions, as Washington stands at 6-feet 6-inches. Washington’s build is somewhat similar to lighter versions of unified champion Anthony Joshua that we’ve seen.
Kownacki did not stop Charles Martin, the first world champion Joshua defeated, when they met last September. Each of the three judges scored six of the ten rounds in his favor, but going the distance alluded to how Kownacki could hold up at the cusp of entering the championship rounds.
The problem here is Kownacki may be at a juncture in his career where he might not face an opponent that tells us about his unknown unknowns – prior to a world title fight. The fact that he chopped down Washington significantly faster than Miller did touching up Washington for eight rounds in July 2017 is great. But what happens when he cannot press forward, overwhelm guys with his combination of volume and power, and they don’t stay down once dropped?
Against the remaining better opposition Kownacki’s likely to face, he’ll need to avoid lunging forward so much with his jab. The current delivery of his set up punch is telegraphed, and leaves him susceptible to counter punches. An obvious example to study would be to work on some of the feinting used by Tyson Fury, or to mix in doubling or tripling up the jab, but making it work for his level of agility.
Another issue is that Kownacki’s penchant to mix it up often leaves him on the wrong foot following his combinations. More concerning is that he’s also squared up with his opponent, which presents his opponents with their choice of targets.
Ultimately, Kownacki probably is what he’s going to be as a fighter, and his style has him ranked in the Top 10 by both the WBC and IBF. He’s also currently The Ring’s No. 9-ranked Heavyweight.
Maybe fights with Dominic Breazeale, Dillian Whyte, or Luis Ortiz are unrealistic because those men are positioned for title shots in their next bouts. But, does Kownacki’s destruction of Washington propel him into play as a viable opponent for Wilder/Fury or Joshua for the second half of 2019, largely because the fight would be a new story to watch unfold?
Conversely, how would potential fights with Michael Hunter or Oscar Rivas be viewed in terms of them being too risky? The next two fights for Konawcki should be progressively better, and by the end of 2019 maybe the only certain great thing we know about him is the outcome of his year. Let’s see a couple of adjustments made that give him the greatest shot at becoming Brooklyn’s next great Heavyweight.
All photos by Adam Samuelson/Premier Boxing Champions