New York

Juiseppe Cusumano Stops Adam Kownacki (TKO8) at MSG Theater



Juiseppe Cusumano Stops Adam Kownacki (TKO8) at MSG Theater
Ed Mulholland photo of heavyweights Juiseppe Cusumano and Adam Kownacki going at it June 24, 2023 at the MSG Theater

The underdog got served big time at Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night. Juiseppe Cusumano sent early notice to Adam Kownacki he didn't come to NY to be a comeback gimme. Cusumano dispatched fellow heavyweight Kownacki to the mat in the first, and finished the job with flurrying in the eighth on the Matchroom card, before the Edgar Berlanga-Jason Quigley main event.

The towel came in as Cusumano, promoted by Jimmy Burchfield and CES from Rhode Island, landed heavy with both hands on a compromised Kownacki. The doc called a halt at 2:00 of the eighth, via TKO. This fight will be recalled by those watching as a minor classic, full props to each man for crawling through glass.

Sugarhill Steward, who trains Tyson Fury, cornered Kownacki for the first time. Kownacki came in having lost three straight, to Robert Helenius twice and then Ali Demirizen. He may very well be done as a pro.

June 24, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Adam Kownacki and Joe Cusumano during their fight on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

The Virginia native Cusamano (21-4 entering) aka The Sicilian Nightmare, living in CT, is 35.

The Poland native Kownacki (251 pounds; 20-3, 15 KOs coming in), who made Brooklyn and Long Island home, now living in Miami, is 34.

Cusumano Drops Adam Kownacki

In the first, we heard a “Adam Kownacki” chant from the patrons, to start the round. They thumped from the start. A right hand over the top buzzed AK. Kownacki waited too much. Then got dropped. The bell may have saved AK. A counter right on the chin did the damage.

In the second, Cusumano looked to blitz him. They went center ring, with JC the harder hitter with his right. His punches got there first, too. AK went to the body, was JC tired from early exertion? The straight punches of Cusmano were finding a home–but AK looked to be getting his legs. A right hurt JC, he held on.

In the third, blood from the nose of JC. He wanted to land a counter right, and did. AK landed good to the body, JC kept at center ring, didn't recede under pressure. Would he have the gas to continue the pace? AK went to the body, but his punches didn't look crisp. JC looked weary, though, his mouth open late.

Adam Kownacki fought on the Edgar Berlanga undercard

Kownacki-Cusmano preceded the Edgar Berlanga main event. Here, Edgar gets his hands wrapped for his bout on the Matchroom Boxing card on Saturday, June 24th at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Melina Pizano/Matchroom.

In the fourth, we saw traded jabs. Then toe to toe, the sweat spray had the crowd buzzed. JC did well to move a little, to reset, then launch. He did well to battle off the ropes, a precarious spot, but JC's stamina was so far, so good. His big right landed a few times, and his focus was good, he kept moving instead of being a stationary target. He may have taken the round.

June 24, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Adam Kownacki and underdog with bite Joe Cusumano during their fight on Saturday, June 24, 2023 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.

Tight Rounds, Fun Fight

In the fifth, more trading. Both over their heads some, as they traded jabs. AK would land then JC would answer, this was a good old fashioned rumble. Was Cusumano losing steam? He answered that, with inside work. The pace lessened in this round, from both. And then JC would put together a little combo. Back to back tight round to score.

In the sixth, the JC jab knocked AK's head back. Neither man looked fresh but both kept plugging away. Cusumano acted more energized early. A left hook caught AK coming in, you heard a thump when it landed. AK wasn't near busy enough. Another Cusumano round?

In the seventh, AK started faster. Steward had told him he needed to. His right landed hard but JC stayed aloft. And he roared back, with bombs. AK threw the same, the place went ballistic. For one minute, it was the round of the year.

In the eighth, the docs looked extra at AK before the round. The round began…AK scored, then a right counter from JC. AK looked more active, he backed up Cusumano. Then JC came back, a one-two. His flurry had the AK corner concerned, and the towel came in.

Founder/editor Michael Woods got addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the then-impregnable Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist has covered the sport since for ESPN The Magazine,, Bad Left Hook and RING. His journalism career started with NY Newsday in 1999. Michael Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and for Facebook Fightnight Live, since 2017.