BLUBBERY heavyweight fun, the latest fad in boxing, unfolded at the Barclays Center, where Polish contender Adam Kownacki outlasted ageing Mexican trialhorse Chris Arreola in a brutal, if sloppy, but ultimately entertaining 12-round slugfest.
All three judges saw it wide for hometown favorite Kownacki, to the tune of 117-111 twice (Lou Moret, Kevin Morgan) and 118-110 (Don Trella). Danny Schiavone refereed.
The 8,790 boisterous spectators that showed up clad in red and white to see Kownacki headline his first main event conjured up memories of the days when compatriot Tomasz Adamek drew bustling crowds to the Prudential Center in New Jersey from 2008-2012.
The affable Kownacki, who grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint and now resides in Long Island, could be the next great Polish-American attraction – and he has a fan-friendly style, to boot. Together with Arreola, the two put on a bruising tussle, as attested by their punch output: a combined 2,172 punches thrown, a record for heavyweight boxing, according to CompuBox since it began tracking punches 34 years ago.
The fight got off to a torrid start and did not relent, with Kownacki dictating the pace early on. Within seconds of the opening round, Kownacki found an opening for his straight right that wobbled Arreola.
But the Mexican fought smartly enough, circling around the ring and found brief pauses in Kownacki’s onslaught to attack the body and counter up top with the straight right — a key weapon for Arreola down the stretch. Still, it was all Kownacki in the early going, with the crowd reaching fever pitch whenever their man unloaded with four-punch combinations.
Through the mid rounds, it was clear that fatigue was settling in for both fighters, as their punches lacked their usual zap, but both kept coming forward. Arreola was noticeably determined, putting his head down and whaling away at Kownacki’s milky-white paunch.
Though outgunned, his resilience could not be questioned. Whenever it appeared Kownacki was on the verge of a stoppage, Arreola would find a way to grind out the round by landing his straight right. Indeed, all three judges awarded Arreola the last round. Arreola’s trainer Joe Goossen wondered postfight what would have happened if Arreola had not broken his right hand from a punch during the fourth round.
On the TGB Promotions undercard, former WBC light-heavyweight champion Jean Pascal, of Laval, Quebec, turned back the clock on a dwindling career, dropping Staten Island’s Marcus Browne thrice in a dogged fight (set for 12) that ended after a gruesome gash opened up over Browne’s left eye due to an unintentional head clash.
On the advice of the ringside physician, referee Gary Rosato stopped the bout at 1-49 of the eighth round. All three judges (Glenn Feldman, Julie Lederman, and Steve Weisfeld) turned in identical scorecards of 75-74 for Pascal, who received the nod for the last round.
It is surely the most significant win of Pascal’s late career since his points victory over countryman Lucian Bute nearly five years ago.
Conversely, southpaw Browne was red-hot coming off a career-best win over Badou Jack in January. He seemed largely in control through three rounds, working behind his jab and reeling off hard left hands to the body that caught the attention of the crowd. Browne continued the good work, circling to his right and staggering Pascal multiple times with stinging straight lefts and hooks.
But in round four Pascal capitalised on an opening and countered Browne’s hook with a looping right hand that sent the New Yorker flailing to the canvas. Browne got up on shaky legs and would survive the round and go on to control the next couple of rounds, boxing more cautiously from the outside, keeping Pascal on the end of his jab.
In round five, he landed a left to Pascal’s mid-section, causing the Quebecois to freeze momentarily. Browne seemed to have Pascal figured out, but with less than 30 seconds remaining in round seven, Browne got countered with the same right hand that flattened him to the mat
Pascal followed up with another knockdown to end the round and was winning round eight before the headbutt stoppage occurred. Postfight Pascal’s manager confirmed there was a rematch clause.
The end of the road appears nigh for Brownsville, Brooklyn’s Curtis Stevens, who touched the canvas three times against Nigeria’s Wale Omotoso, who trains in Oxnard, California, before getting stopped in the third round of their super-welterweight contest (set for 10).
Early on, the fight appeared to go Stevens’ way before Omotoso drilled him late in the first round with a straight right that accounted for the fight’s first knockdown.
In round two, the hard-hitting Stevens was back on the prowl, landing a hard hook. But moments later, Stevens would taste the canvas again, this time from a seemingly innocuous left jab.
In round three, Stevens charged out of his corner, winging hard punches as Omotoso lay on the ropes, temporarily changing the tenor of the fight. After fending off the fusillade, Omotoso answered with a crisp one-two that pinned Stevens to the mat once more. Stevens managed to upright himself, but referee Johnny Callas took a long look and decided he was not fit to continue, waving off the bout at 1-28 of the third.
The Verdict Kownacki shows there is a place for himself in the heavyweight division.
Adam Kownacki (166 1/2lbs), 20-0 (15), w pts 12 Chris Arreola (244lbs), 38-6-1 (33); Jean Pascal (174 1/2lbs), 34-6-1 (20), w tech dec 8 Marcus Browne (173 3/4lbs), 23-1 (16); Wale Omotoso (153 1/2lbs), 28-4 (22), w rsf 3 Curtis Stevens (153 3/4lbs), 30-7 (22); Keeshawn Williams (146 3/4lbs), 6-0-1 (2), w ko 1 Mario Perez (145 1/2lbs), 5-4-2 (2); Brian Howard (207lbs), 15-3 (12), w ko 1 Carlos Negron (242 1/4lbs), 20-3 (16); Brian Jones (144 1/2lbs), 15-10 (9), w rsf 5 Julian Sosa (144 1/4lbs), 13-1-1 (5); Marsellos Wilder (202lbs), 5-1 (2), w pts 4 Nicoy Clarke (200 1/2lbs), 2-4; Helen Joseph (121 1/2lbs), 16-3-2 (10), w pts 6 Edina Kiss (122 3/4lbs), 15-11 (9); Kestna Davis (153 1/4lbs), 4-0, w pts 4 Jaime Meza (153 1/2lbs), 0-3; Cobia Breedy (126 3/4lbs), 14-0 (4), w pts 10 Ryan Allen (123 1/2lbs), 9-4-1 (4); Arnold Gonzalez (146 1/2lbs), 2-0, w pts 4 Jeremiah de Los Santos (144 3/4lbs), 0-3.