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Adam Kownacki wins heavyweight bout against former champ Charles Martin

Poland's Adam Kownacki, right, punches Charles Martin during the eighth round of a heavyweight boxing match Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, in New York. Kownacki won the fight.  / AP/Frank Franklin II

Polish heavyweight Adam Kownacki, who is based at the modest Bellmore gym owned by trainer Keith Trimble, announced himself as a legitimate heavyweight title contender by scoring a unanimous 10-round decision over former IBF champion Charles Martin Saturday night at Barclays Center. The bout televised by Showtime was on the undercard of the Danny Garcia-Shawn Porter fight for the vacant WBC welterweight title.

Judges Carlos Ortiz, Joseph Pasquale and John Stewart all scored the bout, 96-94. The 263-pound Kownacki (18-0, 14 KOs) got the win with a powerful, heavy-handed performance to remain undefeated. He landed 219 power punches compared to 185 by southpaw Martin (25-2-1, 23 KOs), who weighed 246. But Martin showed his toughness and stamina throughout and rallied effectively in the middle of the 10th to land combos that had the crowd roaring. All three judges gave him the final round to make it closer as the two heavyweights combined to land 57 power shots, 30 by Martin.

"I have a great team behind me,” Kownacki said. “I proved tonight that I’m a top 10 fighterat heavyweight. I need a few more fights before the title shot, but it’s coming . . . I thought I won the decision a little wider than the cards, but Charles came to fight all night. He was in shape and coming forward, and I had to dig deep.”

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Kownacki isn’t the first world-class contender who has worked with Trimble, who has a stable of top MMA fighters and previously trained Long Island welterweight Chris Algieri when he won the IBF welterweight title. The five-year relationship between Trimble and Kownacki is notable for the quiet toughness they share and their loyalty to each other.

“He’s a great trainer,” Kownacki said of Trimble before the fight. “I think he’s highly underrated in the boxing community. He sticks to the basics. That’s what wins fight. It’s been a tough road and it still is, but this fight is going to bring me a step closer.”

Kownacki’s critics say he takes too many punches, and he said, “I like to fight so much that [defense] goes out the window. I just focus on getting the kill and the knockout.”

In Trimble’s view, Kownacki has improved his footwork and defense, but his taste for the rough stuff can be a strength as well as a liability. “In the world of boxing, especially heavyweights, you better be able to take a punch and give a punch,” Trimble said. “If you can’t do those two things, you’re going to struggle as a heavyweight.

“Adam used to take a little bit too much, but he was always right back in your face. If you hit him two shots, he’s hitting you with four or five shots.”

Kownacki certainly demonstrated that quality against Martin. In addition to Kownacki’s physical toughness, Trimble appreciates his mental fortitude. His ability to shake off power shots is a major strength.

“You have to know how to relax and don’t show that you’re tired, don’t show that a shot hurt you,” Trimble said. “I know Adam has been hit with big shots before. After the fight, he’s like. ‘Oh, yeah, I got hurt to my rib and this and that.’ I would have never known. He doesn’t show anything, which is a real good thing to have, not showing when you’re hurt by a punch, not showing when you’re tired.”

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As Kownacki has risen through the heavyweight ranks, he has attracted interest from other managers and trainers eager to poach a budding contender. Trimble said that has been even more of a problem with his MMA fighters at the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy, but Trimble’s fighters have remained a tight-knit group.

“The chemistry with all my guys is they know I’m there for them,” Trimble said. “I don’t get caught up in any of this media or the promoting. At the end of the day, they know I have their back no matter what.”

After the win over Martin, it’s clear Trimble has a special heavyweight in Kownacki. At the final bell, Kownacki smiled as if to tell Martin how much he enjoyed their brawl.