NEW YORK – Ali Eren Demirezen derailed Adam Kownacki’s comeback attempt Saturday night.
The tough Turkish heavyweight contender withstood Kownacki’s strong start, gained control of their action-packed bout in the middle rounds and won their 10-rounder by unanimous decision on the Danny Garcia-Jose Benavidez Jr. undercard at Barclays Center. All three judges – Mark Consentino (96-94), Martha Tremblay (97-93) and Steve Weisfeld (97-93) – scored their fight for Demirezen in Kownacki’s home borough of Brooklyn.
The 33-year-old Kowancki (20-3, 15 KOs) has lost three straight fights after starting his career 20-0. He was much more competitive versus Demirezen (17-1, 12 KOs) than he was during his rematch with Robert Helenius nine months ago, but his dream of becoming boxing’s first Polish-born heavyweight champion is even more out of reach for the courageous veteran .
Kownacki suffered back-to-back, technical-knockout losses to Finland’s Helenius (31-3, 20 KOs) before he lost to Demirezen. A right hand by Helenius fractured the orbital bone around Kownacki’s left eye early in the first round of their rematch last October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Helenius battered Kownacki for most of their second fight, until referee Celestino Ruiz stopped it during the sixth round. Kownacki needed only time off, not surgery, for his broken eye socket to heal.
Kownacki suffered damage beneath his left eye again against Demirezen, who landed numerous flush right hands to Kownacki’s head during the final six-plus rounds.
Demirezen went after Kownacki at the start of the 10th round, as if he might not have been sure about getting credit for his work on the scorecards. He snapped back Kownacki’s head with a right hand with about 2:15 to go in the opening round.
With just under 35 seconds to go in their fight, Demirezen wobbled Kownacki with a right hand that moved him backward.
Demirezen and Kownacki traded hard head shots throughout an action-packed, competitive ninth round.
Kownacki ate several right hands as he pressed forward during the eighth round, but he tried to slow down Demirezen by going after his opponent’s body. He landed a hard right-left combination to Demirezen’s body in the eighth round, which backed up Demirezen.
After allowing Demirezen to take control of their fight in the previous three rounds, Kownacki came back and landed more punches in the seventh round. Demirezen did drill him with a right hand that stopped Kownacki in his tracks with 35 seconds to go in the seventh round, though.
Demirezen again kept Kownacki on his back foot in the first minute of the sixth round, when the aggressor landed multiple right hands. Kownacki couldn’t contend with Demirezen’s accuracy for much of a sixth round in which Demirezen built more momentum.
Demirezen got a good extension on a right hand that got Kownacki’s attention with just under 1:40 to go in the fifth round. Demirezen landed another hard right hand several seconds later and snuck in another flush right as the bell sounded to end the fifth round.
Demirezen was the aggressor in the fourth round, when he somewhat slowed Kownacki’s punch output. Demirezen drilled Kownacki with a right hand with just under 30 seconds to go in the fourth round, but Kownacki took it well.
Kownacki kept coming forward during the third round and landed several right hands.
Kownacki got off to a strong start again in the second round. He snapped back Demirezen’s head with a right hand just before the midway mark of the second round.
They traded hard right hands toward the end of the second round.
Kownacki came out aggressive and went after Demirezen’s body during the first half of the opening round. Demirezen withstood Kownacki’s early onslaught and landed some hard shots during the second half of the first round, including a left hook just before the bell sounded to end it.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.