After the fight, his chin was held high, as he walked from his dressing room to his car with his manager.
Adam Kownacki’s face betrayed some of the story, that he’d been in a fight. Little scratches, discoloration, a bit of swelling.
And the absence of a smile on the visage of the down to earth Polish-American filled in a gap, if you hadn’t see that an hour before, Kownacki had lost for the first time as a professional at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The heavyweight scrap pitted the 20-0 Kownacki against the 29-3 Robert Helenius, a Finnish-Swedish vet who was brought here to compete and be beat. Much of the smart (and dumb) money was laid out with the assumption that Helenius, at 36, was far past his prime, and would be a decent scalp added to the “AK Babyface” resume.
Three rounds in, that call looked on target. Then, round four, down went Kownacki, though it was ruled a slip. But he’d been buzzed, and Helenius got back to work, sharking the New York-based pugilist. Kownacki got sent to the mat but beat the count, determined to fight his way out of it.
Yeah, OK, maybe in retrospect, more measures undertaken to help buy some time would have been wiser. Helenius swarmed, and since Kownacki wasn’t answering back or defending adequately, the ref stepped in. The winner, Robert Helenius; the loser, Adam Kownacki. The lesson learned, again, for fight fans and pundits: don’t assume an older dog only owns a bark, presume he’s got some bite left in him, too.
As Kownacki walked to the waiting Escalade, his manager Keith Connolly, doing the decent thing, stood by him, mostly silent but supportive.
“How you feeling, man?” I asked the boxer.
”OK,” he said. “Just got caught with something stupid. I’ll be back.”
And off he went to the car for a drive home that probably featured pained silence, and a constant playback in his mind of what went right, and what didn’t.
Sunday, I messaged the PBC boxer, who was in line for something juicy next, as this FOX-televised main event was billed as a WBA eliminator. I asked again how he was doing.
“My pride is hurting a little, but other than that good,” the 30-year-old fighter stated.
Have you figured out “what went wrong?”
“It’s the heavyweight division, I got caught with a good shot,” he answered.
It happens, right? Even, yes, to the very best.
“Of course. Lesson learned.”
Some folks had remarked that his missus, on TV, looked very concerned that hubby was absorbing blows Saturday. How has she handled this?
“She was so concerned,” Kownacki said. “It’s a new feeling for everone. I usually do the hurting!”
What did he say to her after in dressing room?
“I said I was sorry.”
All due respect, no need for that, I told him. You did your best.
“But not my smartest.”
Listen, if you like, to the Everlast “Talkbox” podcast, hosted by Woods.