“This fight is going to be another step toward becoming a champion. I know I’m going to have to work very hard and prove that I’m continuing to build on my win against Szpilka. From the video I’ve seen on Iago Kiladze, he moves a lot, so I’ll be needing to cut off the ring. Whatever he brings to the ring, I’ll have an answer for.
“Three years in a row now I’ve been fighting in January. I love starting off the year strong. My wife and I actually started a tradition of the ‘Kownacki Family Run’ at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Since I’m always preparing for a fight around New Year’s, we figured we might as well have fun while we work. So, we’ll have some friends come out and run a few miles with us around the neighborhood during the fireworks. It’s fun and helps get me ready.
“Ultimately, I’m looking to become the best in the heavyweight division. The end goal for this year is to become a world champion. But the very first step is taking Iago Kiladze very seriously. I can’t look past January 20 right now. I have a tough opponent who will challenge and make me a better fighter in the long run.”
"I feel great and my training has been terrific. My trainer is Freddie Roach now. I sparred with (IBF Cruiserweight Champion) Murat Gassiev three times recently which is great preparation for me. I believe I can knockout Kownacki but if I have to go the distance I'm prepared for that. Either way, I'll be victorious. I'm feel that I'm the more skilled fighter and that will show in the ring.
"This is a great fight for my career and a terrific start for 2018. I know that if I win this fight I'll be that much closer to a world title opportunity.
"My goal is to be a world champion at the end of 2018. I want to continue improving and learning under Freddie and with his guidance I'm confident of success."