Sirens fill the air as I struggle to hear what Adam Kownacki is saying. It’s almost as though Brooklyn is ringing alarm bells ahead of his huge return to the ring this Saturday against Ali Eren Demirezen. The Polish-born heavyweight hasn’t won since 2019 and is drinking in the last chance saloon this weekend in an attempt to regain his footing on the heavyweight ladder.
“I have to win this fight,” Kownacki admits. “If I don’t then, shit, there ain’t going to be many big options for me left in the sport. I’ll have to do some real heavy thinking about my career.”
Kownacki (20-2, 15 KO) was stopped twice in back-to-back fights against Finnish giant Robert Helenius, blowing apart plans to challenge for recognised heavyweight gold. The world was at his feet after running 20-0 against an array of heavyweight gatekeepers, and his loyal Brooklyn following made him quite the attraction in the Big Apple.
“These losses were completely my fault,” he adds. “I wasn’t prepared at all for the first fight. My wife was about to give birth and all I could think about was her and her health. And the second fight I just got caught with a shot rushing in, to be honest. I wasn’t mentally switched on enough in either. He caught me at the perfect point in my life, but that isn’t to take anything away from how good of a fighter he is.
“That’s the difference this time around. We are feeling great in this camp and more focused than ever. My family went back to Poland so I have been without them for three months, so there have been no distractions for me. Just business.
“This is a new chapter in my career; there is no looking back now. I haven’t been this low in weight in a while and I am looking to make a statement on Saturday that I am back.”
Kownacki has won fans in the division due to his reckless come-forward style. Akin to the pockets of support that Dillian Whyte has garnered over the years in the United Kingdom, the 33-year-old is usually a safe bet to put on a show even if you’re unwilling to place a wager on the outcome. But this time “Babyface” is looking to fight smarter, battling against his natural instincts as a fighter.
“We want to control our attacks and not just go rushing in,” he explains. “But the old Adam is still going to go for the finish if it presents itself. All my focus is on this fight, I’m not going to start looking forward to other fights and opportunities.
“Demirezen is a good, good fighter; a former Olympian and a big puncher. I don’t know much more about him, but I know that I’m going to hand him his second career loss.”
It’s make or break this weekend for Adam Kownacki, and as they say, a desperate man is a dangerous man. Priced at 11/8 (+138) for a win this weekend, you’ll do well to find a better live dog than “Babyface” inside the Barclays Center.