The sport of boxing is hard, and when you talk about the heavyweights, it’s even harder as the blows are brutal and more damaging. Although the heavyweight division has been the one to draw the eyeballs of both fans and casuals alike, they haven’t had a great year. The names we want to see fight each other aren’t, and in the last month, we’ve had two heavyweights test positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs): Joe Cusumano (22-4, 20 KOs) & Robert Helenius (32-5, 21 KOs).
Unfortunately, heavyweight Adam Kownacki (20-4, 15 KOs) has fought both men, with his last fight being against Cusumano in June. Matchroom sent a press release this week saying that Cusumano’s test was returned with “an adverse analytical finding,” which is part of the anti-doping protocol mandated by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC). That sparked reporter Curran Bhatia to interview Kownacki on the topic for Draft Kings. ProBoxTV reached out to Kownacki to go a little further into the subject of the adverse test result from Cusumano and his future.
ℹ️ Official statement on Joe Cusumano pic.twitter.com/fRea2mMbtG— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) September 5, 2023
The fight between Kownacki and Cusumano was highly entertaining and had the Hulu Theater rocking inside the Madison Square Garden. Although the fans enjoyed the action, Kownacki took a severe beating inside the ring. Both men took some big shots, but Kownacki’s face looked far worse than Cusumano’s, which led everyone to wonder whether the wars Kownacki had been in had caught up to him.
With that night being so taxing on Kownacki, did he feel cheated? Did something occur during the fight that may have tipped him off that Cusumano could have been using something? Kownacki told ProBoxTV, “I absolutely felt cheated. Someone retweeted the link of the final blows and showed him jumping up pretty high after the knockout. Then I thought, ‘How are you capable of doing such a thing? You just went to war for eight rounds, and you have the power to jump up so high?’ It’s mind-blowing and hurting. I was coming off of three losses, so that fight meant the world to me, then to find out you were fighting a cheater. It sucks.”
NYSAC confirmed to @boxingscene that, in addition to indefinite suspension, Joe Cusumano faces fine, forfeiture of purse + additional punishment from positive drug tests surrounding June 24 Adam Kownacki fight. Commission has begun process to change TKO8 verdict to 'No-Contest.'— Jake Donovan (@JakeNDaBox) September 6, 2023
After the Cusumano fight, Kownacki took some time off and spent some much-deserved R&R with his family. “There were a lot of questions that went through my mind. I was born in Poland and have a huge fan base there, so maybe a goodbye fight over there would have been nice. That crossed my mind. I’m still a young guy who is 34 years old,” said Kownacki when thinking about his future as a fighter.
His time in Poland brought thoughts of one last fight, but being the recipient of the blows he’s taken, Kownacki wanted to be sure there was nothing wrong with his head, so he saw a Neurologist. After getting an MRI done, he was given a clean bill of health from the doctor, which prompted him to get back to the gym and get in shape.
The NYSAC suspended Kownacki, a status typically placed on a fighter who suffered a knockout loss. It’s usually three months, but for Kownacki, it shows indefinitely on BoxRec. Kownacki hopes that the suspension only lasts three months and he can return to the ring in December or January. Even though the Neurologist told him in Poland that he is good, Kownacki wants to be cautious with his next fight and monitor how his body reacts.
“Even though the last fight is going to be a no-contest and two of my last three opponents tested positive for PEDs, I just want to fight someone like Jarrell Miller did coming back from his layoff. Something to get my feet wet. I just want to get a nice win and see how I feel in the ring on a small show. I fought in Florida over a year ago, so maybe something small in Florida,” said the Polish heavyweight.
Whether Kownacki gets licensed here in the U.S. or Poland, he will return to the ring and lace up the gloves at least once more. Should he risk his health for another fight? Only time will tell if he goes through with it or decides he’s had enough of the sweet but often brutal science.