Cusumano: I'd love to face Anthony Joshua

Juiseppe “The Sicilian Nightmare” Cusumano (22-4, 20 KOs) made a dream come true on Saturday night, stunning Adam “Babyface” Kownacki (20-4, 15 KOs) and his Polish contingent for an 8th round knockout at a packed Madison Square Garden Theater. The bout was shown live on DAZN as the co-feature to Edgar Berlanga’s decision victory over Jason Quigley.

“I’m just so happy,” said an elated Cusumano immediately after the fight. “My team at Champs Boxing and I worked so hard for this moment. Jesus Christ helped me regain my momentum in life through boxing and training. I have a great team now. We worked really hard and it showed tonight.”

Only 2 years ago, the 35-year-old Italian was pondering his future after a disappointing first round knockout loss to top contender Daniel Dubois. Instead of retiring, Cusumano decided to change his life and training team, moving to Connecticut to train at Champ’s Boxing Gym with coach David McDonough and flying to the Costa Rican jungle for conditioning work at Gareth McCloskey’s FARMERSTRENGTH training camp.

Both decisions paid off in abundance, as Cusumano made key adjustments during the fight and had incredible stamina to weather the storm that is Kownacki, who was also looking to resurrect his career after losing 3 straight bouts. The 34-year-old recently signed a new promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing and enlisted ‘Sugar Hill’ Steward as his head trainer.

Key questions leading up to the fight were whether Cusumano could keep up with the pace that Kownacki was sure to set and whether Kownacki’s experience against the likes of Charles Martin, Chris Arreola and Robert Helenius would be too much for Cusumano to overcome.

Cusumano wasted little time in answering those questions, staggering Kownacki mid-way through round 1 with his vaunted right hand and landing a triple jab that set up a short and concussive overhand right that dropped the Brooklyn resident hard near the end of the stanza. Kownacki beat the count, and Cusumano was all over him at the bell.

Cusumano jumped on Kownacki early in round 2, but the resilient Pole weathered the storm and launched his own offensive, bloodying Cusumano’s nose and mouth. The fight became a war of attrition from that point forward, as Cusumano and Kownacki traded bombs to one another’s head and body.

Kownacki’s body assault began paying off in round 3, as he forced Cusumano to temporarily fight off the back foot. The heavyweights traded fire in the center of the ring, with Kownacki landing a solid right to the temple to punctuate the round.

Just as the tide seemed to be turning, Cusumano wisely went back to the jab in round 4, snapping Kownacki’s head repeatedly and halting his forward momentum. The fighters again traded heavy leather, even after Cusumano’s mouthpiece came out. Once the action resumed, Cusumano landed a short right hand that shook Kownacki to the core and finished the round strong with sharp left hooks and overhand rights.

Round 5 was more of the same, with Kownacki focused on a body attack and Cusumano landing stiff jabs and heavy right hands to the head. The action was so fierce that ringside doctors checked in on both fighters at the end of the round.

Cusumano adjusted again in round 6, landing sneaky left uppercuts that hurt Kownacki, who immediately began pawing at his right eye in discomfort.

The Sicilian launched a fierce attack in round 7, hurting Kownacki with heavy shots to the head. Kownacki’s body language was concerning, as he seemed to be on unsteady legs throughout the round. Steward appeared ready to throw in the towel, but stopped as the brave Pole let his hands go on a tiring Cusumano. Kownacki wobbled back to his corner at the bell, causing the physician to take another look at him.

Kownacki made a final stand in round 8, looking to turn the tide once again with his trademark high volume. Cusumano also seemed to be gathering his strength while patiently waiting to the right opportunity to attack. The opening came in the middle of the round, as a massive right hand opened a cut over Kownacki’s right eye and a second one staggered him against the ropes. Sensing the end was near, Cusumano jumped all over Kownacki with thudding lefts and rights to the head and body, forcing Steward to finally throw in the towel to save his brave charge at 2:00 of the round.

“I thought it was over a few times,” admits Cusumano. “I would hit him really hard, and just when I thought it was over, he just kept on fighting. I had to push through too – there were times when I felt tired. It was back and forth – we both hurt each other. Adam’s a warrior and a great fighter, but the Sicilians came through tonight.”

With the biggest win of his career in the bag, the 6’4” Cusumano is setting his eyes on the top names the division has to offer.

“I want to take the biggest fight out there,” stated Cusumano. “I’ve been doing this my whole life, and now it’s time to have something to show for it. I’d love to face Anthony Joshua.”

“We’re ready for anyone,” agreed CES Boxing promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr. “After this dominant victory against a real warrior in Adam Kownacki, who trained harder and was in the best shape of his boxing career tonight, we’ll take the most lucrative option because Juiseppe deserves it. This was a fight of the year and was the co-feature on a major platform. Any network would want to feature a power punching heavyweight who represents both Italy and the United States.”

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