Jared Anderson and Adam Kownacki: Heavyweights on Worrisome Paths


By Arne K. Lang

Jared Anderson last fought in August of last year when he scored a fifth-round knockout over Ukrainian journeyman Andrii Rudenko on a card in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That elevated his record to 16-0 (15 KOs) and reinforced the opinion that he was America’s best hope to end the era of foreign dominance in boxing’s glamour division.

Although Anderson hasn’t fought since then, his name has been in the news and the news hasn’t been pretty. On Thursday of last week, Feb. 29, the 24-year-old boxer was arrested in Huron Township in Wayne County, Michigan, his second brush with the law in less than four months.

ESPN boxing writer Mike Coppinger broke the story on the day that it happened. Coppinger subsequently updated the story with information posted by the Huron Township Office of Public Safety on the department’s Facebook page.

Anderson was arrested after a police chase that ended when he crashed his Dodge Challenger into a highway median. The chase began in the early afternoon when a policeman attempted to pull him over for speeding. During the chase that wended north and south across roughly five-and-a-half miles, his vehicle reached a top speed of 130 mph.

Noting that Anderson’s car had a camera mounted on the back windshield, Huron Township Police Chief Everette Robbins expressed the view that Anderson baited the policeman. Because the pursuing officer periodically discontinued the chase in the interest of public safety, Robbins (perhaps alluding to Burt Reynolds and Jackie Gleason in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies) described it as a cat-and-mouse game.

In Michigan, Anderson’s escapade is a third-degree felony with a potential five-year prison term. He spent two nights behind bars before he was released on bond and has his first court hearing scheduled for March 13 in Romulus, Michigan. Romulus is roughly 50 miles from Anderson’s home in Toledo, Ohio. The following month, on April 13, he is scheduled to resume his boxing career in Corpus Christi, Texas, with Belgium’s Ryad Merhy in the opposite corner.

Previous Incident

Speeding also factored into Anderson’s previous arrest. On Nov. 6 of last year, in the wee hours of a Monday morning, he was pulled over for driving 55 mph in a 40-mph zone in the lakefront Toledo suburb of Oregon, Ohio.

The officer detected the scent of marijuana in the vehicle and the odor of alcohol on Anderson’s breath. An open bottle of tequila was found in the vehicle and there was a handgun in the glove compartment. He was charged with being in possession of a firearm while driving under the influence.

Anderson was arrested and spent 8 hours in jail. The OVI charge (operating a vehicle while impaired) was expunged when he passed a breathalyzer test but the firearms charge stuck even though it was in a locked compartment. In court, he pleaded “no contest” and was slapped with a $200 fine and a six-month suspended sentence.

In addition to his boxing prowess, Anderson has attracted notice for his flamboyant ring walks. In August of 2022, prior to his twelfth pro fight, he adopted a solemn pose, walking slowly to the ring in prison garb with a ball-and-chain. The intent was to call attention to the plight of his older brother Adam “Dub” Anderson who was incarcerated. At the age of 20, Dub Anderson was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role with three co-defendants in a fatal 2013 home invasion.


In this cruel sport, some fights are so exhilarating that they shorten careers, which is to say that they hasten the day when the victorious fighter crosses over to the wrong side of the hill. Although hindsight is always 20/20, the Aug. 4, 2019 fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn between Adam Kownacki and Chris Arreola is emblematic.

The 12-round battle, which some pundits likened to a heavyweight version of Gatti-Ward, set CompuBox records for punches thrown and punches landed in a heavyweight fight. Although there were no knockdowns, both fighters absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment. Kownacki, who at age 30 was the younger man by eight years, emerged the winner by a unanimous decision.

Kownacki had prefaced that win with victories over Charles Martin (UD 10) and Gerald Washington (TKO 2). His triumph over Arreola boosted his record to 20-0. Next in the line of fire was WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. Although Kownacki would have been a massive underdog, it would have been a massive payday for the amiable, moon-faced Pole who had developed a cult following that extended beyond his Polish homies in Brooklyn.


But Wilder wasn’t available quite yet (he had a commitment to fight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz) and Kownacki’s braintrust thought it prudent to keep him busy. They matched him with a journeyman from Finland, a Wilder-like beanpole named Robert Helenius, in theory a safe and useful opponent.

Kownacki won the first three rounds with his non-stop aggression and then the roof fell in. In round four, fighting off the ropes, Helenius buzzed him with a sneaky counter right that produced a flash knockdown. Although Kownacki was up in a jiffy (the knockdown was erroneously ruled a slip), the punch discombobulated him and the Finn seized the moment, storming after him with a barrage of punches that forced the referee to intervene.

In their rematch in Las Vegas, Kownacki was down on the cards and his eyes were starting to close when the referee stopped the messy fight in the sixth frame. Kownacki was subsequently out-pointed by a relatively unknown fighter from Turkey, Ali Eren Demirezen, and then stopped in eight frames by the very limited Joe Cusumano. In this fight, Kownacki was saved by the bell in the first round but to his credit kept plugging away until his corner threw in the towel.

Ringside scribe Thomas Hauser likened the sad spectacle to a wake with the body inside the ring. “Adam shouldn’t get hit in the head anymore,” wrote Hauser in his post-fight report. “Not in sparring and not in a fight. Shame on anyone who, in any way, facilitates his fighting again.”

Hauser’s admonition wasn’t heeded. This past Saturday in Koszalin, Poland, in his first ring appearance in the country of his birth, Kownacki was blasted out in 45 seconds by 24-year-old Kacper Meyna, a fellow Pole who entered the ring with an 11-1 record. It was his fifth straight loss and fourth inside the distance, reducing his record, once 20-0, to 20-5. It seems obvious that his punch resistance is shot; it happens.

Years from now, historians may look back on his fierce rumble with Chris Arreola and see it as a watershed fight for him. Yes, Adam Kownacki triumphed that night, but there was much more to the story.