The way Dominic Breazeale explains it, Adam Kownacki was never looking for ‘Trouble’ after all.
An official announcement remains forthcoming on the next opponent for Kownacki (20-0, 15KOs), the Poland-born unbeaten
heavyweight contender who will headline the March 7 edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox live from Barclays Center in his Brooklyn backyard. As previously reported by BoxingScene.com senior writer and columnist Keith Idec, Finland-based fringe heavyweight contender Robert Helenius (29-3, 18KOs) has emerged as the frontrunner to land the assignment.
The other two heavyweights previously linked as potential replacements for the ubiquitous TBA were Germany’s Christian Hammer (25-6, 15KOs) and, of course, California’s Breazeale.
Early and heavy speculation resided with the assignment going to Breazeale (20-2, 18KOs), a 2012 Olympian whose lone two career losses have come on the title stage—a 7th round stoppage of then-unbeaten titlist Anthony Joshua in June 2016 and a 1st round knockout versus unbeaten long-reigning titlist Deontay Wilder last May at Barclays. The 34-year old has not fought since the loss to Wilder but was willing to step up to face Kownacki. From his view, the targeted opponent wasn’t quite as eager.
“The look on [Kownacki’s] face when it comes to signing the contract to fight me,” Breazeale noted on his verified social media account, accompanied with a photo a duck head costume. “Now he wants to fight a washed up dude [Helenius] instead of giving the fans a heavyweight slugfest and fighting me.
A bout with Helenius—or any confirmed opponent for the March 7 date—is still pending network approval. As Breazeale would be coming off a loss, Helenius picked up a confidence-restoring win in his last bout last November following a heartbreaking knockout defeat to Gerald Washington in their eight-round slugfest which aired live on FS1 last July. The win was a bounce back of sorts for Washington, who lost three of his previous four including a 2nd round stoppage to Kownacki live on Fox last January in Brooklyn.
Helenius’ return to the win column came in a 2nd round stoppage of soft-chinned Brazilian heavyweight Mateus Roberto Osorio (9-5, 5KOs), who has never been beyond three rounds.
As for Kownacki, the March date has clearly become means to mark time while remaining hopeful of a title shot in a suddenly crowded heavyweight title fight.
Wilder is due to face England’s Tyson Fury on February 22 in Las Vegas, in a rematch to their December 2018 draw and with language in their contract calling for a bilateral rematch clause afforded to the loser of the bout. Meanwhile, Joshua is pressed with mandatory title obligations versus Kubrat Pulev and Oleksandr Usyk.
That leaves the rest of the heavyweight contenders to fend for themselves. Kownacki has done just that, following up a breakout stoppage win over countryman Artur Szpilka in 2017 with four straight wins over California-based heavyweights—Iago Kalidze, Charles Martin, Washington and most recently Chris Arreola in their Compubox-record setting slugfest last August.
Breazeale—who hails from Eastvale—was hoping such a run would include his own California dream, but has become resigned to the fact of looking elsewhere for his next assignment—but not giving up on a date with Kownacki.
“Go ahead and pad your record and stay safe, at some point you'll have to fight. I'll stay in the gym and will continue to look for the best fights for the fans. #TROUBLE
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for @BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox