Kownacki shines in Barclays spotlight fight
Outlasts Arreola in brutal Brooklyn slugfest to set up potential title bout
Adam Kownacki shouldn’t have to wait in line anymore for a heavyweight title fight.
Unfortunately, the Brooklyn resident and native of Poland will have to do just that despite surviving an epic slugfest with Chris Arreola Saturday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Kownacki, also known as “Babyface,” went 12 tough rounds with the 38-year-old Los Angeles native of Mexican descent and emerged with a unanimous decision victory (118-100, 117-111 and 117-111) on a night that saw the two pugilists combine to throw a CompuBox record 2,172 punches.
Arreola ultimately ceded to Kownacki’s toughness after the bout, which may have been his last after falling to 38-6-1.
“He was relentless, someone that just keeps coming,” Arreola said of Kownacki, who improved his record to a perfect 20-0, and more importantly, kept himself in the conversation for potential future bouts with the division’s top fighters.
“I know I cracked him with some good punches, and he cracked me with some but he’s just relentless and just keeps fighting,” Arreola added. “I was more than ready to go all 12. This was a setback but congratulations to Kownacki because he won the fight.”
Arreola has fought and lost three major title fights during his 16 years in pro boxing, but Kownacki is still awaiting his first big break.
The 30-year-old, who has lived in Greenpoint since the age of seven after moving to Brooklyn with his family from Lomza, Poland, hopes that the grit he showed against a proven heavyweight contender will get him a bout with reigning champions Deontay Wilder, Andy Ruiz Jr., and/or Tyson Fury.
He also proved that his legion of followers, who were in full throat throughout the Barclays donnybrook, will show up again in droves if he manages to back up his first-ever nationally televised headline bout with a major heavyweight showdown.
But Wilder, also a Barclays favorite, is scheduled for rematches with both Luis Ortiz and Fury, leaving Kownacki again to wait his turn.
“I’ve just got to keep training hard and keep refining my skills and hopefully next year I get a title shot,” Kownacki said after the bout.
“Let’s see what happens.”
Going toe-to-toe for the majority of the bout, neither Arreola nor Kownacki touched the canvas despite a number of heavy blows landed by each.
The non-stop action, rare for a heavyweight fight, had fans clamoring for a rematch, but Kownacki is likely looking toward a brighter future in the ring, while Arreola has exhausted his last-best chance to state his case for a fourth championship shot.
“I thought it was a good fight and close, but I knew I pulled it out,” Kownacki said. “I thought I boxed a little bit better and landed bigger shots. I won and that is all that matters.
“Chris is a great fighter so congrats to him for staying up 12 rounds,” he added. “Like I said before, age is just a number. He is 38 and proved he can still hang. I hope he won’t retire because with a fight like that, I’m sure the fans would like to see him again.”
Arreola, who boasted before the fight that he would retire if beaten, wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about continuing his career after absorbing a whopping 35 percent of punches thrown by Kownacki, who landed a total of 369 during the main event.
The first-time Barclays brawler also broke his hand following a ferocious exchange in the fifth round.
“I gave it my all, this fight, and really let it all hang out even after breaking my hand and I kept fighting because I believed I could win,” Arreola noted.
“After this, I need some time off to figure this out because I don’t know if I can go through this again.”
For Kownacki, a boxer just hitting his stride and rising in the division ranks, looking backward isn’t an option.
The 6’3” slugger, who graduated from Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, has already proven he can fill a major boxing arena and beat an opponent who had superior ring and championship-level experience.
Now, he just needs Wilder, Fury or Ruiz Jr., who stunned Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden in June, to give him a chance to be among the world’s best in this suddenly interesting division.
In other local pro sports news, the New York Islanders learned Monday that they would have two nationally televised games this coming season, and both will be played at the Barclays Center.
The Isles will host New Jersey here on Jan. 2 and welcome Philadelphia to Barclays on Feb. 11. Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
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