By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Adam Kownacki thought until recently that if he keeps winning, he’d earn a shot at WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder sometime next year.
With Wilder’s schedule seemingly full for quite some time, Kownacki knows he might be just as likely to fight Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2020. That’d require Ruiz to beat Anthony Joshua again in their immediate rematch later this year, but it’s a fight Kownacki would welcome if Ruiz can do that.
“He called me out, right?,” Kownacki told BoxingScene.com. “Well, challenge accepted.”
Kownacki joked that a bout between him and Ruiz would amount to a battle of the “dad bods.” The 30-year-old Kownacki thinks it’s a possibility if he defeats Chris Arreola on August 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and Ruiz beats Joshua again, but he is trying to remain patient while proving his worthiness as a championship challenger.
“I think I’m making a solid point for getting a title shot,” Kownacki said. “I’m good with whoever it will be. But Ruiz is with PBC and I’m with PBC. That wouldn’t be a hard fight to make. I would love that fight, but I’ve just gotta take one step at a time. I have a good managerial team behind me, with Al Haymon and Keith Connolly, and I’m getting moved in the right direction.”
Watching Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs), who also has been criticized for appearing out of shape, knock out the sculpted, previously unbeaten Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) on June 1 motivated Kownacki to prove people wrong. He thought Ruiz had a chance to pull off an upset as soon as he accepted that fight on five weeks’ notice.
“I wasn’t surprised, to tell you the truth,” Kownacki said. “When the fight first was announced, I was like, ‘Yo, Ruiz can fight. He’s a great fighter.’ But then, once I started listening to experts, they made it sound like he had no chance. But he’s a great fighter. He’s a boxer. He’s not a bodybuilder. So, I knew he always had a chance. Listening to all the experts, I started thinking he was probably gonna get knocked out. But he proved everybody wrong.”
Brooklyn’s Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) and the 38-year-old Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs, 2 NC), of Riverside, California, will headline a “PBC On FOX” tripleheader August 3.
In the opening bout, Marcus Browne (23-0, 16 KOs), of Staten Island, New York, is set to defend his WBA world light heavyweight title against former WBC champ Jean Pascal (33-6-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC), of Laval, Quebec, in a 12-rounder. Just before Kownacki and Arreola square off, former WBC welterweight champ Andre Berto (32-5, 24 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, will meet Miguel Cruz (18-1, 12 KOs), of Lake Mary, Florida, in a 10-rounder.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.