With his second son on the way, the heavyweight contender looks to exact revenge when he takes on Robert Helenius Saturday night on the Fury-Wilder 3 undercard, live on pay-per-view.
But it has nothing to do with evening the score with Helenius and addressing the memory of his loss to him back in March 2020.
Kownacki’s wife is due to give birth to their second son on Oct. 12, just three days after he faces Helenius in a rematch at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on the undercard of Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder's heavyweight trilogy on ESPN + PPV and Fox Sports PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) for Fury’s WBC title.
In addition to Kownack-Helenius, two more consequential heavyweight bouts will take place on the PPV undercard: Efe Ajagba faces Frank Sanchez and Jared Anderson squares off against Vladimir Tereshkin in bouts between unbeatens.
But Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) is undoubtedly the only fighter on the card with a baby on the way, focused on “delivering” a win after he was stopped in the fourth round by Helenius 18 months ago.
“I was supposed to go away for training but my wife is due to give birth soon, so I stayed home to be with her,” Kownacki told PBC in a phone interview last month. “It’s a boy. We’re very excited. Things are good, just living the American Dream and getting ready for this rematch.”
Kownacki, who was born in Lomza, Poland, could have blamed a lack of sleep for his shocking loss last March, since the birth of his first son coincided with the date of the first fight. But just as he’s not one to take a step back in a fight, Kownacki is also not one to make excuses for what took place in Brooklyn that night.
“A lot of sleepless nights,” Kownacki said with a chuckle of the birth of his son six months before the first bout with Helenius. “I love him so much — he slept in the same bed as us so it wasn’t perfect. It was hard to get enough rest, but that’s life. No excuses.”
The 32-year-old has made the proper accommodations this time around, getting his shut-eye in a separate room from his wife and baby.
Along with being physically recharged, Kownacki promises he won’t be as careless and over-eager as he was last March, when he was decked twice in the fourth round and was stopped on his feet.
For a fighter who normally walks through punches as if he's rebuking a light wind, the way the fight ended, with Kownacki backed against the ropes under a barrage of punches, was stunning to watch.
Unassuming and friendly, with a wry sense of humor, Kownacki’s underdog personality along with his frenetic fighting style have made him an easy fighter to root for. He was careening toward a title shot following impressive wins against former title holder Charles Martin, Gerald Washington and Chris Arreola when he ran into Helenius.
The 6-3 Kownacki is a punch-machine, forever marching forward to dish out punishment, and that’s how the bout played out for the first three rounds, with Kownacki swatting away with both fists.
But the 6-6, 238 ¾ pound Helenius turned the tables in the fourth, dropping Kownacki for a second time with a right-left combo, leading to the fight being stopped seconds later.
“ But you know I’m from Brooklyn and I have to get mine in the rematch. ” Heavyweight Contender - Adam Kownacki
“I got a little reckless and I got caught cold,” Kownacki explained. “When you walk in and you get timed with a good shot, it stings. The 1-2 buzzed me on the knockdown and messed up my equilibrium. But you know I’m from Brooklyn and I have to get mine in the rematch. It was a lesson learned and I’ll be back.”
Because the journeyman Johann Duhaupas had knocked out Helenius in six rounds back in 2016, Kownacki was confident he would be able to dispatch Helenius in quicker fashion. But that expectation was met with an unkind reality.
“I was trying to do it two rounds earlier than he did,” Kownacki said. “It was a learning experience. Obviously in boxing, if you don’t get results, you can’t advance in your career.”
Kownacki’s new perspective extends to a more thoughtful approach at the kitchen table as well, and the full-bodied heavyweight expects to look a little slimmer than he has in recent fights.
Kownacki’s physique will never be confused for Anthony Joshua’s (whose six-pack couldn’t save him from Oleksandr Usyk last month).
But Kownacki said he should come into Saturday’s fight weighing under 260 pounds for the first time since he weighed 258 ½ pounds against Gerald Washington in 2019, a sign of the seriousness with which he’s taking this bout.
“I’m definitely eating healthier, feeling better overall,” he said. “I can’t balloon up between fights. I feel good at this weight.”
While he’s been fussier in the kitchen, he doesn’t plan to be more discriminating with his punch output. Ever since he was an amateur, Kownacki has thrown punches as naturally and easily as people breathe.
“That’s been my style since I started,” said Kownacki, who continues to be trained by Keith Trimble. “It’s gotten me here. I’m not going to change that much now.”
Kownacki doesn’t want to read too much into Joshua’s loss to Usyk because he's focused on Helenius, but he did acknowledge that Joshua will likely exercise his rematch clause and face Usyk again, creating a possible scenario for him to face the winner of Wilder-Fury if things work out for him on Saturday.
“I’m not focused on that because I have to beat Robert first but it does open the door a little (of facing the winner),” he said. “That’s the goal but I won’t allow myself to look too far ahead.”
He is, however, looking forward to the sight of Helenius getting knocked out, and that includes the hope that Helenius took some solid head shots while sparring with Wilder in preparation for their bout.
Photos emerged of Helenius and Wilder posing after a presumed sparring session. Kownacki has clocked rounds sparring with Otto Wallin and Brandon Lynch.
“I hope Wilder catches him with a good right hand,” Kownacki said with a laugh.
For someone who is sure to have a lot of sleepless nights after his wife gives birth, at least Kownacki sounded well-rested as he wished for his opponent to be put to sleep by a Wilder haymaker in sparring.
For a closer look at Adam Kownacki, check out his fighter page.
- Adam Kownacki