Adam Kownacki and Robert Helenius Seeking One Step Closer to Title Shot

Boxers Adam Kownacki and Robert Helenius will battle in a WBA heavyweight title eliminator this Saturday in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Updated: March 4, 2020 • 9:20 PM ET

Robert Helenius is looking for a major victory this weekend.

Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will host a WBA heavyweight title eliminator fight this Saturday, as undefeated Polish contender and Brooklyn native Adam Kownacki will battle veteran Swedish fighter Robert Helenius.

Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs) is coming off a unanimous decision victory over three-time title challenger Chris Arreola in an entertaining match in August. Saturday’s bout will be the fifth straight for Kownacki in his hometown and 10th overall at Barclays. The 30-year-old is excited to once again fight in the place he calls home.

“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,” Kownacki said via Fight Sports. “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.”

Kownacki knows that Helenius will bring a different challenge than his last opponent.

“Helenius is a totally different opponent than Arreola,” Kownacki said. “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.”

Kownacki has a fan-pleasing, high action style. He’s attempting to become the first Polish heavyweight champion, a dream that will be severely delayed if he cannot get past Helenius.

Including Arreola, Kownacki has created buzz with notable wins over former title challenger Gerald Washington, former champion Charles Martin and former title challenger Artur Szpilka.

“Helenius is going to come in with the mindset as if I’m a world champion,” Kownacki said. “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.”

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Helenius (29-3, 18 KOs) is coming off a second-round TKO of Mateus Roberto Osorio in November, which was a great rebound after suffering an eighth-round knockout to Gerald Washington last July. The 36-year-old has had a long career, but still believes he can be a world champion.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” Helenius said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe in myself anymore. I think I could find an easier job somewhere, but boxing is to me, it’s a lot like a lifestyle; you live it.

“You have to eat correctly, sleep correctly, train correctly, do everything around boxing. Even when I’m with family and we go away on vacation, boxing is my whole life. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid. Representing Finland, of course, I want to do big things. I’m already a two-time European Champion, but I want to go for the gold, to be a world champion. That’s my goal.”

Gaining valuable experience, Helenius has had notable fights outside of Washington, including bouts with Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora and Johann Duhaupas. He has trained hard in preparation for a fight with Kownacki.

“I spent four weeks of training camp at home in Finland, training in the Aland Islands, then I sparred for a week in Alabama at Deontay Wilder’s gym,” Helenius said via Big Fight Weekend. “It was a great experience and I learned a lot being around so many good fighters while working with my coach Johan Lindstrom. Sparring fighters like Robert Alfonso and Nathan Gorman will definitely help me be at my best on March 7.”


• Start time/how to watch: The fight can be seen on FOX at 8 p.m. this Saturday

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