SAN DIEGO, Calif. August 2, 2019 – Since the upset win by Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua in June, along with the return of Tyson Fury, boxing’s marquee heavyweight division has been opened up to far more possibilities and far greater stakes in bouts among those aspiring to the top spots. It’s been a blessing for the fans and the fighters alike.
Two potential beneficiaries meet in a ‘Clash of the Titans’ on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Undefeated Brooklyn based Adam Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) takes on former three-time heavyweight title challenger “Nightmare” Chris Arreola of Escondido, California (38-5-1, 33 KOs). No titles at stake in this fight, but perhaps something more important – big opportunity.
The televised fight card airs on FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Kownacki fighting for title opportunity in heavyweight sweepstakes
Born in Poland, Kownacki is an old school, blocky heavyweight in the George Foreman mold. He’s heavy handed and deliberate. So far it’s served him well. In his last bout in January, he took out solid opponent Gerald Washington in just two rounds.
Known as “Babyface,”Kownacki has been eager to rise up the ranks in the division. But his better known fellow Brooklynite Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller got the nod to take on Anthony Joshua in June – until Miller tested dirty for performance enhancing drugs. The world then witnessed the stunning up set of Joshua by Ruiz Jr. The 30 year old finally gets a chance to strut his stuff for matchmakers against Arreola.
“This is a new experience for me being the headliner, but in the ring it doesn’t matter. It’s just two guys fighting each other. We both love to fight. I can’t wait to get it over with and punch him in the face,” said the good-natured Kownacki, who promised he would send his dedicated fans home happy.
“Chris Arreola is a warrior. You always know that when Chris fights, it’s a good fight. But I’m going to test how much he has left in the gas tank. Chris has been in there with three champions and when I take care of business on Saturday, I’ll be one step closer to being world champion,” said Kownacki.
Arreola: ‘I have to make this one last run count’
Arreola always hoped to be the first Mexican-American heavyweight champion, but he came up short in three attempts against Tomasz Adamek, Bermane Stiverne, and Deontay Wilder. He’s fought significant opponents including Vitaly Klitschko. Arreola looked better than he had in years in March, having little trouble with paper tiger Jean Pierre Augustin of Haiti (17-1-1, 12 KOs) scoring a third round TKO victory.
At age 38, Arreola seeks one last run at the top of the division. Always entertaining in and out of the ring, he’s got a solid base of loyal fans in Southern California and in Mexico, just as Kownacki does in Brooklyn and in Poland.
“I understand that Adam is the favorite because he’s undefeated and fighting in his hometown. At the end of the day, none of that matters to me. I’m going to give it my all for this fight. I’m carefree right now. I have no stress. If I lose, I’m okay with walking way. But I’m not here to do that. I’m here to win.
“I went to Joe Goossen as my trainer because I knew it was time to make a change. I have to make this last run count. This is the best team I could imagine. Joe makes you work on your mistakes. I believe the winner of this fight is whoever takes advantage of the first mistake.
“I respect everybody outside of the ring, but once we’re in the ring, I’m not friends with anyone. We’ll shake hands after the final bell, but I’m here to put on a show. It’s lights, camera, action and time to shine,” said Arreola.
The big men agreed on one thing: the fans would get their money’s worth. “You better record this one, because you’re going to watch it again and again. I’m going to come out with my hand raised,” said Arreola.
“These fans are trusting me to bring the title back to Brooklyn and to Poland. This definitely has Fight of the Year written all over it. Neither of us are afraid to let our hands go and no matter what happens, the fans are going to be winners on Saturday,” agreed Kownacki.
Kownacki weighed in at 266.4 pounds, his heaviest to date in his pro career, but close to his norm the past few years. Arreola hit the scale at 244 pounds, a reasonable weight for him. Arreola topped out at a bloated 262.5 against Curtis Harper 2015 (famous later for turning tail against Efe Ajagba).
Marcus Browne makes first title defense against veteran Jean Pascal
On the televised undercard, unbeaten WBA interim light heavyweight champion “Sir” Marcus Browne of Staten Island, New York defends his title for the first time against former champion, Jean Pascal of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Browne said it feels great to be fighting at home along with Kownacki and Stevens. “It feels great to be here defending my belt. I’ll be in a better position after this fight,” to get a unification opportunity, promising he’ll make a statement against Pascal.
“A win on Saturday puts me in contention to fight for a world title next. That’s my focus, but before that, it’s about Jean Pascal and taking care of him the right way,” said Browne. He promised to make quick work of the veteran Pascal despite not being known as a power puncher. “If the knockout is how he wants to go, I’ll be ready,” said Browne. “Pascal is a guy who doesn’t come to lay down, he comes to beat you. That’s what the sport is about. You have to fight guys of that stature if you’re not fighting champions.”
Pascal has seemed to be on the brink of retiring several times. He’s had four losses in eight fights, all to top opponents including Sergey Kovalev twice, Eleider Alvarez, and Dmitry Bivol. But his stunning sixth round TKO win over undefeated prospect Ahmed Elbiali in 2017 gave him renewed life, and he survived to the final bell against Bivol last November.
“I’m too good all-around for Marcus,” declared the 36-year-old veteran. “This is my chance to show that I still have a lot of gas left in the tank. I’m still good enough to fight at the very top level of the sport.
“Marcus has been saying that he’s going to go in there and try to knock me out, but I’m no amateur. I know what his game plan is going to be. He’s going to run around the ring and try to hold. We all know he’s the best at running like a chicken. When I was Marcus’ age, I was already a world champion. He was watching me on TV when he was at the Olympics,” said Pascal.
The light heavyweight division is among the most competitive in boxing, and a win for Browne gives him a unification opportunity. For Pascal, it could be a farewell performance but 2019 has been the year of upsets.
Curtis Stevens shifts to super middleweight division
Brooklyn’s own Curtis Stevens (30-6, 22 KOs) moves to the super welterweight division for the first time after 15 years fighting at middleweight to take on Wale Omotoso (27-4, 21 KOs) of Nigeria now training in Oxnard, California. Omotoso is coming off a shutout decision loss against undefeated Chordale Booker. Stevens’ last fight was a fourth round TKO tuneup in the Dominican Republic, but his last notable fight was a horrific KO loss to David Lemieux in March 2017.
“I decided that I’d go down to 154-pounds because my camp has a lot of the top 160-pound fighters, so we were getting in each other’s way” explained Stevens. “There are a lot of opportunities for me in this weight class as well.
“No matter what has happened in my career, I have always come back. I’m mentally always ready to bounce back. I’ve had layoffs in my career, but I know that I’m going to get where I need to be,” said Stevens. “This is my first time fighting at Barclays Center, and I’m going to give the fans a taste of what they’ve been missing.”
Omotoso brushed off Stevens’ remarks. “I’m not worried about Stevens being at a new weight. I don’t think it’s going to affect him that much. On Saturday, we’re both going to do our best to get the win.
“He’s a big puncher who brawls. But I’m a big puncher too. He’s been there and fought everybody, but I’m going to show the world what I can do. I think this is going to be a toe-to-toe fight … it’s going to be fought in the middle of the ring.”
Kownacki vs Arreola airs on FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes Saturday starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. Viewers can live stream the PBC shows on the FOX Sports and FOX NOW apps or at FOXSports.com. In addition, all programs are available on FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83 on satellite radios and on the SiriusXM app.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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