Fight Preview: Adam Kownacki Closer to a Title Shot but Needs to Get Past Robert Helenius
By: Rich Lopez
Premier Boxing Champions returns back to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday. Three fights are scheduled to be televised on the Fox telecast and the focus will be on the heavyweight division. Three undefeated heavyweights are looking to make a name for themselves and all three will have worthy challengers.
In the main event, one of the most exciting heavyweights is back and now aiming closer to a world title shot. Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (20-0, 15 KO’s) of Poland, will be making his tenth appearance at the Barclays Center. Kownacki was a good amateur boxer who won the 2006 and 2009 New York Golden Gloves Championships. He started his professional career in 2009 and he had a brief absence from the sport from 2011-2012 due to injuries. He resumed his career in 2013 and he started to make a name for himself. In 2017, Kownacki really opened our eyes when he stopped fellow countrymen Artur Szpilka in an all-out Polish showdown. Kownacki made a huge statement and stopped Szpilka in the fourth round. He had a stellar 2019 with two impressive victories over Gerald Washington and Chris Arreola. His fight with Arreola was one of the best fights of 2019. Both men slugged it out for twelve rounds which produced a CompuBox heavyweight record of 667 punches landed and 2,172 punches thrown from both fighters combined. This is one of the reasons why Kownacki is must see TV. He is an action fighter that is aggressive. He also has power and he throws many punches.
On Saturday, he will be fighting in a WBA World Heavyweight Title Eliminator and his opponent will be Robert Helenius (29-3, 18 KO’s) of Finland. Helenius, who is known as “The Nordic Nightmare,” was actually a top heavyweight when Kownacki was just getting started in his pro career. Helenius secured victories over Samuel Peter, Siarhei Liakhovich, and Dereck Chisora in 2010 and 2011. He was being talked about as an opponent to possibly dethrone Wladimir Klitschko at that time. From 2012-2014, his career was set back due to injuries and layoffs. Since returning to the ring in 2015, Helenius has struggled to get back on top and has lost when stepping up in competition. Most recently, in his American debut last year, he was stopped by Gerald Washington in the eighth round. He did bounce back with a win in November against easy competition with a TKO over Mateus Roberto Osorio.
Kownacki will be looking for another knockout victory in his hometown in front of his Polish fans. He is getting closer to a bigger fight but he needs to get past Helenius first. As for the 36 year old Helenius, this will probably be his last shot in a big fight and he will try to make the most of it.
In the co-main event, Efe Ajagba (12-0, 10 KO’s) of Nigeria, looks to continue his rise in the heavyweight division. Ajagba is a former 2016 Olympian that has gotten a quick start to his professional career and has gained a lot of attention. Since he started his pro career in 2017, he has kept a busy schedule with most of his knockout victims not seeing past the fifth round. The 6’6” heavyweight is a fearsome puncher with a devastating right hand. Ajagba is also known to be involved in the shortest boxing match in history in 2018. His opponent Curtis Harper walked out of the ring in the first round when the bell rang which resulted in a disqualification win for Ajagba. In Ajagba’s last fight in December of last year, he had to battle through adversity. After dropping his opponent Iago Kiladze in the first round, Ajagba was dropped in the third round. Ultimately, Ajagba recovered and stopped Kiladze in the fifth round. On Saturday, Ajagba will square off with battle tested Razvan Cojanu (17-6, 9 KO’s) of Romania. Cojanu is 1-4 in his last five fights but on paper this will be a solid test for Ajagba. Cojanu has only lost to top fighters in his career.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Frank Sanchez (14-0, 11 KO’s) of Cuba, is also looking to continue his rise in the heavyweight division. Sanchez was a decorated amateur who got his start to his professional career in 2017. Sanchez has been on a quick start and has looked good so far in his career. He has shown quick hands and good power. He will take on his toughest opponent up to date. His opponent will be Joey “Tank” Dawejko (20-7-4, 11 KO’s) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Don’t be fooled by the record. Out of his seven losses, he was only stopped once earlier in his career which was to former heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Dawejko is solid and has good skills and should serve as a solid test for Sanchez.