A Surprise, But more of an Embarrassment

I can forgive the loss.  The possibility of greatness is not an obligation.  He doesn’t owe us a spectacular career.  It was fun watching him up till now.  But that last one was frankly an embarrassment.

Finland’s Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius (R) and Poland’s Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (L) fight during a 12-round featured rematch at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, October 9, 2021. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

I did not expect him to slow down, to fight off the backfoot. That was the surprise. I thought he would double-down on his four-alarm-fire, both-arms-swinging assault technique.  It worked for him the last time.  Don’t forget, before Hellenius knocked him down, Kownacki was peppering him with both hands.  But he chose incomprehensibly to fight from long range with a man who had longer arms.

Hell, the fight became target practice for Hellenius, and he had Kownacki’s eye closing in the first round.

So, he was frustrated, he was scared, he felt sure that Hellenius was going to knock him out again, that he had no chance at winning.  So he was immature, and he was an embarrassment.  He punched Hellenius in the balls.

On purpose, repeatedly. 

The talking heads correctly said he was looking for a way out.

It reminded me of a film I saw (and I have seen so many) I couldn’t tell who it was that made film, regarding Ali / Liston, the rematch.  This fellow pointed out something I hadn’t noticed before.  Right at the opening bell, Ali meets Liston at the center of the ring, and *Boom!* *Boom*! A left and a right, both hard, flush shots.  They happen so quickly that I had (as did the guy calling the fight) overlooked them.  Go see – watch for yourself.

Then he proceeded to dance, moving around the ring flicking out his punches like lightning, and ducking, shucking and jiving, slipping everything Liston threw.  Liston could not find him with anything.

He had to be thinking “This is going to be just like the last time. How can I get out of this?”

Just then, a flash knockdown!  A right to the temple knocked him down.  “I might as well let this be it” thought the already beaten man.  He stayed down, and despite Jersey Joe Walcott’s comedy routine, was ruled loser by first round KO.  He avoided the pain of continued humiliation.  He could take a punch, he couldn’t take being made to look ineffectual, insipid, inert.

There have been lots of guys that impressed, amassed an undefeated record, that accumulated a following only to end up too close to the sun and like Icarus fall to the sea.  We all thrill to watch the meteoric rise (and how does that phrase make any sense?) but the meteoric thud is distasteful affair, and we look away as soon as we can.

Kownacki’s record had a blemish,  he had a single “L”.  Lots of guys have one loss.  Even champions have a loss or even two, or more.  It happens. But now his record bears the freight of a used diaper.  The stink of that “DQ” is going to limit his choices of opponents, and will hamper his negotiating leverage in his second attempt at the comeback trail. And he lost more than just the fight,  I think he lost a lot of fans, this one included.

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