Polish heavyweight star and Brooklyn fan-favorite Adam Kownacki, unbeaten rising star Gary Antuanne Russell and former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy spoke of their fighting legacies and desire to make history while previewing their respective matchups during a virtual press conference on Thursday before they enter the ring on Saturday, July 30 live on SHOWTIME from Barclays Center in Brooklyn in a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Kownacki will take on Turkish Olympian Ali Eren Demirezen in the 10-round co-main event, while Russell and Barthelemy will meet in a 10-round super lightweight showdown kicking off the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® tripleheader at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The event is headlined by two-division world champion Danny “Swift” Garcia making his super welterweight debut against exciting contender Jose Benavidez Jr.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by TGB Promotions and DSG Promotions, are on sale now and can be purchased through seatgeek.com and barclayscenter.com. Tickets are also available for purchase at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
The 33-year-old Kownacki will return to his home arena of Barclays Center, where he has previously fought 10 times, compiling a 9-1 record in front of the area’s raucous Polish fans. Kownacki, and his longtime trainer Keith Trimble, seek an emphatic victory after back-to-back defeats and a chance to get back into contention for the heavyweight title.
For Russell, he will be fighting for the first time since the passing of his father and trainer Gary Russell Sr. last month. The highly acclaimed rising star will look to continue the legacy of his fighting family and will have his brother, former WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. in his corner for this July 30 showdown. He again steps up in competition to face Cuba’s Barthelemy, who can move closer toward his own goal of becoming Cuba’s first three-division world champion with a win.
Here is what the press conference participants had to say Thursday:
“This is the biggest fight of my career. I have to win to stay relevant in the heavyweight division. I’m training hard and I’m ready to win.
“Having two kids these last few years has been life changing for me, but I can’t have everything with a cherry on top. I had to make more sacrifices in my life for this training camp to make sure that I stayed focused.
“I never thought I was done after fighting Robert Helenius. My goal is just to always go out there and do my best. My first boxing goal was to win the New York Golden Gloves, and I did that in my first year. My goal, now, is to win the world title, and that’s what I’m working toward.
“I had a good 20 fights, I hit a bump in the road, but on July 30 I’m coming to get a win and then I’m back on the right track. I want to get a world title shot in the next year or two, and with my team, I know that I can get that done.
“It’s going to be a red and white arena out there to support me. It’s going to be another great night. I can’t wait to be back in Brooklyn at Barclays Center.
“The footwork is really what we’re focused on. I remember being in camp with Wladimir Klitschko and being amazed by his footwork. I worked on it a lot back then but I got a little bit away from it.
“The fans are going to get what they always see with me. It’s fireworks. I can’t wait to be back in Brooklyn. Fight night can’t come soon enough.
“For a while, I could go blow for blow and come out on top. The past couple fights didn’t end that way, so we went back to some of our basics. That’s what I have to do to take the next steps.”
GARY ANTUANNE RUSSELL
“My father cornered the market when it came to a lot of this, not just in boxing, but as a leader and a teacher. We don’t want anything he did to go in vain. We want to keep this legacy going on. He knew what he was doing with this machinery and with our legacy.
“He gave us a cerebral insight on not just the world, but boxing. We’re going to take it and run with it at this point. Life has a road that demands not just excelling, but evolution. That’s part of life. We’re going to carry this legacy and information and build off this foundation he left for us.
“As far as our training methods, nothing is different. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We’re trying to do everything as close to usual as possible. The only difference is my dad’s voice and foul language isn’t here for inspiration. We have to work with what he left us and keep sharpening our tools.
“We have to keep going forward, period. We can’t take a step back. Because that would make all the sacrifices we’ve made and that our father made, be in vain. We can’t go backwards. As far as training, we’re busting our tails as usual. We’ll be in here in the gym on the 4th of July.
“A win on July 30 brings us closer to our family goal. We’ve been knocking at it individually, but we accomplish things as a whole, as we should. Beating an opponent of this caliber gets me closer to that family goal.
“As an individual, I just want to wipe out the division. I want all the titles. I’m a superstar, but I’m very humble. There are things that people need to know. I need to spread my wisdom and showcase my talent. I’m definitely going to flourish in my goal and the benefits that it brings. The sky is the limit for me.
“I’m delivering a showcase of excellence, fireworks and a victorious night for me, as usual. We’re keeping that train going and we’re trying to keep that knockout record unblemished.
“If you don’t come into this ring with some type of confidence, then you shouldn’t be in this profession. He should be saying things about knocking me out. But my mentality hasn’t changed. This is just another steppingstone.”
“I want to extend my condolences to the Russell family. I know Gary and the entire family were always united and very close. I remember being in your city and seeing how close you guys were. My heart goes out to you. As far as the fight goes, I don’t see Gary’s situation as being advantageous to me. I hope that Gary can be at 100 percent so that we can give the fans a great fight.
“I have to redeem myself. I have a very bad feeling about my last fight and I’m just thankful to SHOWTIME for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to showcase my skills and to show the fans that I’m still here and that I’m ready to take what’s mine.
“I still have the hunger. I have two things in my head right now. The first one is redemption, like I said before. The second one is that I want to become the first three-division champion from Cuba. That is my obsession. I pace around the room sometimes just thinking about it and how bad I want to accomplish it. It keeps me up at night. But first, I have to focus on July 30 and stay focused on what I really, really want to accomplish.
“I’m as hungry as ever and I want to emphasize that point. I still strive for more, and I want more, and I’m still capable of so much more than what others think I am.
“I don’t see it like I’m being used as a steppingstone, but rather, I see this as an opportunity, because I can redeem the last fight that I had, which left a very, very sour taste in my mouth. I want to show that I can still be someone who can be counted on in this division to make history out there.
“I need this win to secure my history. Time is running out. I need to go in there and leave blood, sweat and tears in the ring to make sure I can achieve my dreams and my goals and everything that I want to accomplish.
“I want to continue to work on my conditioning and be ready to take on the power from a young and explosive fighter like Gary Antuanne. Our styles clash perfectly. Gary is someone who comes forward and likes to be very offensive, while I’m more of a counter-puncher. So, what they’re going to see is a kind of art inside the ring and you’re not going to want to miss it.”
KEITH TRIMBLE, Kownacki’s Trainer
“We just have to get back to working behind the jab and working on the head movement. We can’t get lackadaisical. You’re going to see better footwork, better movement and Adam working behind that jab.
“Adam truly wants to be that first Polish heavyweight world champion. He’s not just doing this for the money, he’s serious about boxing and about his legacy.
“In this sport, you’re only as good as your last fight. Everyone wants to dump on you when you take a loss, but we’re just focused on what is in front of us.”
GARY RUSSELL JR., Gary’s Brother and Trainer
“I’ve fallen right in suit as far as training. It’s something I was always doing anyway and was side by side with my father and coaching my younger brothers. It’s easier for me because of the way my father prepared me for this opportunity. We are using everything that has happened to us as fuel and are 110% prepared for whatever comes our way. We are focused and nothing is going to get in the way of what we need to accomplish.
“I got the surgery on my shoulder on April 1. I’m in recovery and I’m getting physical therapy. I don’t know when I’ll be back. We don’t know. As of now that’s all I can say. I’m focused on my younger brother and getting some good physical therapy at the same time.”