Kownacki-Helenius to headline March 7 PBC card

Contender Adam Kownacki will headline a night of heavyweights at his hometown arena, Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Kownacki, born in Poland and a big draw in Brooklyn, where he has lived since he was a kid, will take on Robert Helenius in a world title elimination fight in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on March 7 (Fox and Fox Deportes, 8 pm. ET), PBC announced on Friday.

Two 10-round heavyweight fights will also be on the broadcast. In the co-feature, top prospect Efe Ajagba (12-0, 10 KOs), 25, a 2016 Nigerian Olympian fighting out of Stafford, Texas, will face an opponent to be determined. The opponent who had agreed to the fight, Ruann Visser (18-2, 17 KOs), 29, of South Africa, pulled out before it could be announced. In the opener, up-and-comer Frank Sanchez (14-0, 11 KOs), 27, a former Cuban amateur standout living in Las Vegas, will square off with Joey Dawejko (20-7-4, 11 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, who has faced several tough contenders and been a sparring partner for unified titlist Anthony Joshua.

Kownacki (20-0, 15 KOs), 30, an all-action slugger whose aim is to become the first Polish heavyweight champion, will be fighting at Barclays Center for the 10th time and for the fifth time in a row. His manager, Keith Connolly, signed off on three opponents who were in the mix — former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale and Christian Hammer were the other two — and PBC went with Helenius.

“Adam Kownacki has established himself as a fan favorite at Barclays Center and with each victory he puts himself closer and closer to becoming the first Polish heavyweight champion in history,” said TGB Promotions president said Tom Brown, who is promoting the card. “He’ll be given all he can handle by the tough and experienced Robert Helenius.”

Kownacki has been in a series of exciting fights and defeated two former world title challengers and a former titleholder in his past three fights — former titlist Charles Martin by 10-round decision in September 2018, Gerald Washington by second-round knockout last January and Chris Arreola by decision in an August slugfest that set numerous CompuBox records for the heavyweight division.

“It’s great to be fighting in Barclays Center for the 10th time,” Kownacki said. “The last nine bouts ended in victory for me, and March 7 won’t be any different. I’m happy that Fox is showcasing the fight on free television like it was back in the old days, and with the action my fights bring, it’s definitely must-watch TV. I know Helenius will be looking to pull an upset and take my place in the rankings, but I won’t let that happen. I’m already in camp with my trainers Keith Trimble and Chris Carlsen getting ready. After this fight, I want the winner of [Deontay] Wilder vs. [Tyson] Fury II.”

Helenius (29-3, 18 KOs), 36, born in Sweden and fighting out of Finland, will be boxing in the United States for the second time. A few years ago he was regarded as one of the division’s top rising contenders with wins over Dereck Chisora and former titleholders Samuel Peter and Sergey Liakhovich. But he later lost to top contender Dillian Whyte and former title challengers Gerald Washington and Johann Duhaupas. He’s hoping to get back in the mix with a win over Kownacki.

“This is the fight I have been waiting for,” Helenius said. “All of the years of training and fighting will pay off when we fight on March 7. Kownacki is about to feel the strength of Thor’s hammer. I respect him for taking this fight, but he chose the wrong opponent. This is not going to be a fight; it’s going to be a war. I will be the last man standing.”