It’s an old-fashion brawl at the Barclays as two hungry heavyweights square off Saturday night on PBC on FOX.
The heavyweight division is red hot and bursting with intrigue, with challengers pushing harder and harder to leap into the big-money, big-opportunity mix. Among those contenders are high-ranked, undefeated Adam Kownacki and veteran battler Chris “The Nightmare” Arreola.
This Saturday, August 3, Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) meets the former three-time world title challenger Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs) in a twelve-round heavyweight battle, headlining a FOX PBC Fight Night on FOX and FOX Deportes card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The broadcast will feature a twelve-round light heavyweight bout pitting interim WBA 175-pound titlist Marcus Browne against former world champion Jean Pascal.
The 30-year-old Kownacki has a lot of “old school” in him.
Born in Lomza, Poland, Kownacki moved to what has become a Polish enclave in Brooklyn at seven years of age where he discovered his love for boxing. Just like the old-time ethnic heroes of the past, the kid would move from the rough New York City amateur scene to showcase bouts on undercards, where he gradually built an enthusiastic local fan base.
Six of his last seven fights took place at Barclays Center. Kownacki has built a strong following among Polish fight fans in the borough of Brooklyn and will now be headlining his first card at the venue.
A pressure fighter by nature, Kownacki is all about volume punching. Since punch stats have been kept on his bouts, he averages close to 80 punches per round—about 70% more than the typical heavyweight.
The punch activity, combined with his non-stop march forward, taxes the will and physical conditioning of opposition. Forget his lack of a big muscles and an athletic physique, “Babyface” grinds opponents down and makes even the most sculpted opponent huff and puff from fatigue. There’s nothing fancy or pretty about what he does, he’s just efficient. Calm, steady, patient, and consistent with a solid right hand and good timing, Kownacki works and works until his opponent breaks down.
In his most recent bout, he walked right through the body-beautiful Gerald Washington in two rounds. Prior to that, he scored noteworthy victories over former heavyweight titlist Charles Martin, Iago Kiladze, and Artur Szpilka.
Kownacki is already ranked no. 4 by the IBF, no. 6 by the WBC, and no. 12 by the WBA. Yet adding a name like Arreola to his resume will only help increase his Q rating while moving him closer to a world title shot.
“I’m very excited,” Kownacki recently told Boxingscene.com. “I grew up watching him and I think he’s still one of the biggest names in heavyweight division. He’s been in with everybody and he always puts on a good fight, so he’s the perfect opponent... he’s got a lot of fight left in him. On paper, it’s the perfect fight. Now it’s in my hands to do what I gotta do, which is get a knockout and put on a great performance.”
“ ... My plan is to not let him use my name as a stepping stone. ” Heavyweight Contender - Chris Arreola
The 38-year-old Arreola has been around the block a few times and may be better known for his high-profile losses than his greatest wins. But he swears that working with new trainer Joe Goossen has reinvigorated him and re-sparked his love for the fight game.
Last March, prior to bringing on Goossen, a slimmed-down Arreola showed renewed energy and sharpness in blowing away the undefeated Jean Pierre Augustin in three rounds on the Errol Spence-Mikey Garcia pay-per-view undercard.
In terms of tools and abilities, “The Nightmare” brings into this upcoming bout what he brings to every fight. Tougher than tough and bullish, come-forward by nature, Arreola wants to battle and needs to battle to be effective. Despite having solid power in both hands and a will to win, a lack of elite-level reflexes and a less-than-stellar dedication to staying in shape have cost him against his best opposition.
This time out, however, he is fueled by the reality that a loss here may mean the end of the line.
“If I lose this fight, I will retire, plain and simple,” said Arreola. “When I fought Jameel McCline, he was one of those big heavyweights that everybody was talking about, but never made it…I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be his Jameel. So that’s why I’m working hard out here with Joe Goossen. To make sure to put a little setback to his plans for the world title. He will get there, but my plan is to not let him use my name as a stepping stone.”
Kownacki-Arreola will be an action-packed affair and, despite the differing career trajectories of both fighters, no sure-thing win for the undefeated rising contender.
Kownacki has some serious defensive liabilities to go along with his offensive assets. He can be hit fairly easily and has been busted up and bloodied by lesser punchers than Arreola. Meanwhile, Arreola looks better, and more motivated, than he has in years.
A fan-friendly heavyweight war will be waged at Barclays Center on Saturday and there will be plenty of give and take. The last man standing, literally, will move on to take a shot at the heavyweight elite.
For a closer look at Kownacki vs Arreola, check out our fight night page.