There is much to love about the big Polish-American bruiser Adam Kownacki, in every sense. With a puffy squint borrowed from Harry Greb or Carmen Basilio and the heft of a thirties strike breaker, Kownacki is fast becoming my favourite heavyweight. Tyson Fury not withstanding.
At the Barclays Centre last night, Kownacki further enhanced his reputation in the evolving heavyweight division by destroying Gerald Washington in two thunderous rounds that you suspect old Carmen would’ve loved to witness.
Washington, despite his name encouraging me to ponder if I had any of his early Atlantic recordings, was booked to examine Kownacki’s readiness for more exalted company. He had travelled 5 rounds with Deontay Wilder, in a world-title shot which would have sat well in Joe Louis’ title reign, and 8 with Jarrell Miller in 2017. The fight pitched their trajectories together and ensured the hard-partying Polish crowd were enticed to swell the gate for the Keith Thurman main event.
From the opening exchanges it was clear the 29-year-old Kownacki will not change his style beneath the weight of growing interest and expectation. As he did versus Charles Martin, a fight which first brought his rugged talent to my attention, he was aggressive and threw lots of punches. It is startling how simple he makes a fight seem. Try and hit the other guy. Lots.
He doesn’t have quick hands, nor one punch knockout power and yet there is sufficient thud on his hooks and overhand rights to hurt and disorganise good heavyweights. Washington is an experienced fighter, 36 years old, 6 and half feet tall, and wasn’t as easily discouraged as the result may suggest. He failed to impose his jab and Kownacki refused to let him establish any distance, when crowded Washington refused to hold, as if embarrassed to need to when faced with an opponent with rolls of flesh sitting on hips and a downward lilt to his chest.
Kownacki threw repeated overhand rights over Washington’s lazy left hand and whilst no single shot was decisive in isolation their cumulative effect was quickly evident. Once he had Washington hurt, despite the taller man trying to assert himself at the start of the second round, as if to prove the first was merely an aberration, Kownacki didn’t relent.
Washington’s attempt to ‘start-again’ quickly dissolved. Kownacki landed more of the same with Washington pawing with both hands to try and push off the advancing contender. The act, which belayed Washington’s experience, merely left his chin further exposed and Kownacki ruthlessly exposed the flaw with more clubbing shots.
Kownacki is no longer a prospect, he’s a contender, and while Washington is not one of the division’s best men, there was more evidence in this win that the moon faced Pole could cause anyone without a stiff jab similar problems.