By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Adam Kownacki won’t get one step ahead of himself, let alone three.
The humble heavyweight contender just can’t help but wonder what it would be like if he and Jarrell Miller, his longtime friend and sparring partner, went at it in a title unification fight at Barclays Center in their native borough of Brooklyn. Kownacki kept his portion of that dream alive when he inched closer toward a shot at WBC champion Deontay Wilder by knocking out Gerald Washington in the second round Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Miller, meanwhile, has a chance to land a shot at Anthony Johsua’s heavyweight titles in June at Madison Square Garden, as BoxingScene.com first reported last month (https://www.boxingscene.com/joshua-miller-msg-bring-khan-brook-wembley-413–134713).
Kownacki (19-0, 15 KOs) and Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) would be underdogs if they eventually secure shots at Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs), respectively. If they both pulled off upsets, Kownacki and Miller could turn what they’ve talked about for many years into a reality.
“If he beats Joshua and I beat Wilder, then we make the fight of the f***ing century,” Kownacki told BoxingScene.com. “It’d be me versus ‘Big Baby’ in Brooklyn. He gets three belts. If I beat Wilder, I get the WBC belt. Then whoever wins that fight is the unified champion. That would be a crazy story.”
It’d be a crazy story indeed for heavyweights who met nearly 15 years ago at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. There they trained alongside former world champions Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi, Oleg Maskaev and Vivian Harris, hoping all along that they, too, could one day win world titles.
Kownacki, 29, and Miller, 30, have forged a respectful friendship and a healthy competition while sparring more than 1,000 rounds against one another over the years. They even spent some time together in the French Alps, where their bond grew while helping former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko prepare for his fourth-round knockout of Jean-Marc Mormeck in March 2012.
“We thrive off each other, you know?,” Kownacki said. “We know if I have a bad day or he has a bad day, we’ve gotta step it up. But if we don’t spar for a while, it’s called, ‘He got better at this and this. I’ve gotta step my game up.’ So, we’re always feeding off each other’s energy and we always wanna get better. It’s working good. We’re both ranked in the top 10. We’re both around the corner to get title shots and it’s exciting. We’re bringing Brooklyn heavyweight boxing back on the map.”
The Polish-born Kownacki likely will return to the ring over the summer. By then, Miller might have already challenged Joshua for the British superstar’s IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles at The Garden.
“I think his chances are very high,” Miller said when asked about Miller beating Joshua. “He’s a big boy, he’s dynamic, he moves well for his weight. He throws so many punches and he has a hell of a chin, too. I think it’s great. His chances are very high.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.