Undefeated Polish star and Brooklyn native Adam Kownacki will headline in his hometown on Saturday, March 7 when he takes on Robert Helenius in a WBA Heavyweight Title eliminator as the FOX PBC Fight Night main event and on FOX Deportes from Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™.
Kownacki has proven himself as a popular draw in a borough full of heavyweight boxing history, and will look to continue to capitalize on that opportunity in this title eliminator.
“This will be my second time headlining at Barclays Center and having the whole New York community, especially the Polish fans, coming out to support me really feels amazing,” said Kownacki. “I grew up in Brooklyn, so seeing my face everywhere on ads and billboards is a great feeling. There’s definitely a little bit of added pressure being in that situation, but diamonds are made with pressure.”
For this fight, Kownacki has had to make the small sleep adjustments that come with having a six-month-old son, but he continues to feel strong in camp, even testing himself against another Polish heavyweight contender in Mariusz Wach.
“With the baby, I’m sleeping less for sure, but this has been a really strong camp,” said Kownacki. “It’s pretty much the same routine training-wise and it’s always the same dedication that we put in every day. We brought in Mariusz Wach for a few weeks of sparring to help me get ready for this one and I think that’s helped me a lot as well.”
The 30-year-old’s first headlining performance in his hometown came in August on FOX, when he won an exciting action fight against former title challenger Chris Arreola. Now he will face a new challenge in the veteran Helenius, who has faced top competition throughout the world and stands over six-feet six-inches tall, making him one of Kownacki’s most imposing opponents to date.
“Helenius is a totally different opponent than Arreola,” said Kownacki. “He’s much taller, which poses a new set of challenges. Against Arreola, it was easy to get on the inside. With Helenius’ height, I’m going to have to work behind my double-jab and then let my punches go.
“He’s very experienced and he’s been in there with a lot of talented fighters. He fought Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte, going the distance with both, and he’s a former European champion. So, his experience is something I have to be careful with. I’m not looking past him at all.
“Helenius is going to come in with the mindset as if I’m a world champion. I know he’s going to try to take my spot in the rankings. I’m starting to feel like when fighters get in the ring with me, it seems like they’re extra-motivated. But I’m motivated too. I’m in shape and ready to showcase my skills next weekend at Barclays Center.”
This will be Kownacki’s 10th fight at Barclays Center, where he has not only become a fan-favorite, but established himself as a contender in the red-hot heavyweight division. March 7 gives Kownacki another chance to showcase that he has what it takes to end up on top of the heavyweight ladder, and become the first Polish heavyweight champion in boxing history.
“The division is wide open,” said Kownacki. “Right now, Tyson Fury is considered number one. But his previous two fights before the Deontay Wilder rematch weren’t that great. So how good is Fury really? If you look at the top-ten heavyweights, I’m the only one with a clean record, no losses or draws. On Saturday, March 7, I have to prove that I belong in a title fight.”
“Heavyweights always bring excitement and on March 7 fans are going to get non-stop hard-hitting action from these fighting giants,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Adam Kownacki has established himself as a fan-favorite at Barclays Center and with each victory he puts himself closer and closer to becoming the first Polish heavyweight champion in history. He’ll be given all he can handle by the tough and experienced Robert Helenius. Highly regarded rising contenders Efe Ajagba and Frank Sánchez will share the stage with Kownacki and look to continue to show off their credentials as future heavyweight champions. You’re not going to want to blink when these heavyweights step into the ring in primetime on FOX and FOX Deportes.”
Tickets for the event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com and barclayscenter.com. Tickets are also available for purchase now at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs) is noted for his tenacity and has been progressing towards a world title shot with knockouts in five of his last seven fights. The 30-year-old Kownacki, who was born in Lomza, Poland and moved to Brooklyn when he was seven, was an accomplished amateur in New York City before turning pro. He most recently bested veteran contender Chris Arreola in an action-packed fight on FOX in August. His previous two fights had seen him score an impressive unanimous decision victory over former world champion Charles Martin in 2018 and a devastating knockout victory against Gerald Washington in January 2019 on FOX. This will be his fifth straight and tenth overall fight at Barclays Center, where he has routinely brought out the area’s passionate Polish sports fans.
“It’s great to be fighting in Barclays Center for the tenth time,” said Kownacki. “The last nine bouts ended in victory for me, and March 7 won’t be any different. I’m happy that FOX is showcasing the fight on free television like it was back in the old days, and with the action my fights bring, it’s definitely must-watch TV. I know Helenius will be looking to pull an upset and take my place in the rankings, but I won’t let that happen. I’m already in camp with my trainers Keith Trimble and Chris Carlsen getting ready. After this fight, I want the winner of Wilder vs. Fury II.”
A winner in three of his last four fights, Helenius (29-3, 18 KOs) will fight in the U.S. for the second time on March 7, after establishing himself as one of Europe’s top heavyweights for several years. Born in Sweden and fighting out of Mariehamn, Finland, Helenius knocked out Erkan Teper in September 2018 to rise up the rankings before dropping his U.S. debut to Gerald Washington in July 2019. Prior to the Washington fight, the 36-year-old had won six of his last seven fights, with his lone blemish coming against Dillian Whyte. He most recently stopped Mateus Roberto Osorio in November 2019.
“This is the fight I have been waiting for,” said Helenius. “All of the years of training and fighting will pay off when we fight on March 7. Kownacki is about to feel the strength of Thor’s hammer. I respect him for taking this fight, but he chose the wrong opponent. This is not going to be a fight; it’s going to be a war. I will be the last man standing.”
Nigeria’s Ajagba (12-0, 10 KOs) has increased his opposition in his recent fights and passed those tests by getting off the canvas to stop Iago Kiladze in December and defeating fellow 2016 Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen by 10-round unanimous decision in July, both on FOX. The 25-year-old Ajagba gained widespread notoriety in August 2018 when his opponent, Curtis Harper, walked out of the ring after touching gloves to start the first round. Ajagba won the fight without throwing a punch as Harper was disqualified. Living in Stafford, Texas and training with Ronnie Shields, Ajagba will make his 2020 debut and third career appearance at Barclays Center on March 7, after four victories in 2019.
A former amateur standout from Cuba, Sánchez (14-0, 11 KOs) now lives in Miami, trains in San Diego with Eddy Reynoso and is unbeaten since turning pro in 2017. The 27-year-old scored knockouts in his first six pro fights, and picked up nine victories in 2018. In 2019 he added four more triumphs, including three stoppages and his first 10-round victory when he bested Jack Mulowayi in October to win by unanimous decision.
Dawejko (29-7-4, 11 KOs) has been tested against a slew of tough contenders in his career that dates back to 2009. Fighting out of Philadelphia, he has crossed paths with perennial contenders while establishing himself in the heavyweight division. The 29-year-old most recently defeated Rodney Hernandez in July.
Here is what the fighters had to say Thursday from the Tillary Hotel in Brooklyn:
“I love fighting here in Brooklyn at Barclays Center. It’s almost half my career that I’ve fought in that ring, so it’s definitely my second home.
“Fighting for a shot at the title is truly motivating. I know this is a big fight for Robert as well and he’s trained hard, but my title opportunity is right around the corner. I could have waited, but I decided to take on this big test. I’m going to show off why I’m ready to fight for the title soon.
“It’s truly amazing to see the Polish fans on fight night. I was an Andrew Golota fan and Tomasz Adamek after that. Now I’m trying to be the next motivation for young Polish kids. I want to show them that they can make it. I kept making the right decisions and now I’m right there so close to a title shot. Robert is in my way and I have to beat him to get where I want.
“I love hearing the fans yelling on fight night and that definitely gives me extra energy and motivation to fight in the later rounds.
“I’m looking for a spectacular knockout. I want to show why I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world. I have to take care of business.
“It’s truly amazing to have fans all over the world come to share this night with me. It’s an honor to have this following. It’s breathtaking really. I’d tell them to continue on this journey with toward becoming heavyweight world champion.
“This is a very friendly press conference, there’s a lot of respect between these fighters. I can tell that everyone is ready to put on a great show for the fans on Saturday.”
“I have an opportunity to make a great fight Saturday and that’s what I trained for. I’m ready and I had a great training camp. I can’t wait to get into the ring.
“This fight we came two weeks earlier to the U.S. My body has gotten used to the difference. Plus, the sparring in Alabama at Deontay Wilder’s gym really helped get me ready.
“We’re doing everything right and training has been great. We’ve sparred so many rounds, I feel very sharp and ready to get into the ring against Kownacki.
“I have a lot of fans in Europe and that support is why I can even do this and compete on this level. Everything has been so perfect coming into training camp. It makes me feel more confident than I have in many years.
“I trained for years with a broken hand and have had injuries in the past. But the last two years I’ve been healthy and with the same trainer and I feel physically as good as I ever have.”
“I’m excited to be on this great show full of heavyweights. I’m looking forward to Saturday night. I thank my opponent for taking this challenge. He’s a good fighter and we’re looking forward to give you a great fight.
“In the Iago Kiladze fight I had him hurt and tried to finish him, but I went too wild and left my guard down. That’s why he landed a shot and knocked me down. I felt okay when I got up and I came back and finished him off.
“It’s up to Cojanu how the fight goes. We’ll find out if he can take my punch or not on Saturday. We’ll see in the ring if he’s got a hard chin.
“Cojanu has a lot of good experience against good fighters. He’s going to try to box me, but if he can’t take my power, then I’ll be able to win the fight by knockout. If he can take it, I will be ready to win a decision.”
“Efe is a fighter I respect a lot. He’s a great prospect. But I’m ready for him. I feel very confident in myself. I had a great six-week training camp. Everyone who supported me, I’m going to make them proud on Saturday.
“For this fight I got the chance to work with Henry Tillman and it’s made a huge difference in my game. I know the coach can’t fight for me, but I believe in his plan and his judgement. He knows how I can beat Efe Ajagba and Saturday night you’re going to see me shock the world.
“People think Efe has already won the fight, but I feel good. There’s no pressure on my shoulders. I have nothing to lose. I believe in karma and I believe it’s my time for my moment to come this Saturday.
“I’m very happy to be fighting on FOX for the first time. Best of luck to all of the fighters to come through healthy and give the fans a great performance all night.”
“I’m very excited for this great opportunity to fight on this big PBC card. Saturday is going to be a great fight and you can expect a great performance from me.
“I wish Joey luck on Saturday, but not too much luck. I’m going to demonstrate that I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world.
“He’s not knocking out anybody. With my defense and movement, he’s not going to be able to hurt me. I have everything I need to dominate this fight.
“No one he’s ever fought is like me. He’s going to be shocked when I deliver a tremendous knockout on Saturday night. I’ll see you in the ring on Saturday.”
“I want to thank everyone who helped me get this opportunity. I have an opportunity to be great again. I know a little about Frank Sanchez. I know they’re moving him fast, but I think they took the wrong fight. They should have waited a couple more fights for me and I’m going to prove it.
“I am in great shape and I had a great camp with my trainer Justin Fortune. I can’t wait to get in there and give everyone a great fight.
“Experience will play a big part in this fight. I had a great amateur career and I’ve fought all around the world. I’ve sparred with every champion right now and it’s all going to help.
“Frank is a good fighter, but he’s not ready for me. He’s going to try to box me, but I’m going to be too much. I’m predicting a knockout. He’s going to be in for a big shock. He doesn’t have anything I haven’t already seen before.”
KEITH SHELDON, EVP of Programming & Development for BSE Global
“As we all know, BROOKLYN BOXING is at its best when he we have heavyweights in the ring and this card has no shortage of them.
“Adam, you built your career at Barclays Center and we’re thrilled to see you headline for the second time. With nine wins there, it’s safe to say Barclays Center is your second home. We’re excited for you to put on a show for your hometown fans.
“Barclays Center continues to show to the world our steadfast commitment to the sport. This is our second PBC fight this year and the third in the last four months. This further demonstrates our commitment to our boxing program and the sport in general.
“Our partnership with PBC consistently brings great fights to our market and Saturday night is no exception. I’d also like to thank FOX. At Barclays Center we pride ourselves on being in the big event business, and there’s nothing bigger than a primetime heavyweight fight on FOX.”