By: Hans Themistode
Robert Helenius was supposed to make a quick couple bucks. Come into the ring, get beat up for a few rounds against Heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki and walk out. Nothing more, nothing less.
The script was already written, it just had to be played out.
For the first three rounds of their Heavyweight contest which took place on March 7th, 2020, everything was going according to plan. Kownacki had the Polish, Brooklyn crowd at Barclay Center, on their fight for every second of the fight. It all looked easy. Kownacki was landing whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. After two rounds that were easy to score in the favor of the hometown guy, Kownacki almost had his man out of there in the third round.
Helenius managed to make it to the bell, but the fans in the arena were already packing their bags and getting ready to miss the rush out of the building as Kownacki was just about ready to close the show.
The fans were right on their first initial thought. The fight was coming to an end, but not the way many of them were expecting.
Kownacki hit the deck within the first few seconds of the round. Initially, it was ruled a slip. But everyone in the arena knew that it wasn’t. A few seconds later, Kownacki hit the deck again. This time with a thud. He bounced right back up, but things wouldn’t last much longer as Helenius pounded him against the ropes until the referee put a stop to the contest.
It took 12 long years as a professional boxer, but Helenius picked up the biggest and most credible win of his career. And now, everyone is looking at him a bit differently.
Before his contest with Kownacki, Helenius was never viewed as a threat to anyone in the division. Calling him a gatekeeper would be disrespectful to the word. No, he was something below that. A fringe contender. Somewhat of a step up fight for young prospects to jump on.
Kownacki on the other hand, was a star in the making. He had a fan friendly style and had the sort of fanbase that would lead you to believe that he is the best Heavyweight fighter since Muhammad Ali. A win wasn’t just needed, it was expected. Yet, Kownacki didn’t deliver.
So what now? Kownacki will need a few fights, maybe even a few years to rebuild his image. But what about Helenius? Knockout losses to Johann Duhaupas in 2016, and Gerald Washington in 2019, had given many the impression that he wasn’t a contender in the slightest. But with a win over Kownacki, he has officially placed himself in the front of the line as their contest was a WBA title eliminator.
In just a few short hours, Helenius went from the bottom of the barrel, to the top of the food chain.
At the moment, the WBA title is in the hands of British star, Anthony Joshua. But at this point, it isn’t about if, but when, Robert Helenius takes on Joshua, does he have a chance? It’s hard to tell isn’t it.
Joshua has proven that he can be beat, but Helenius would seem to be in over his head against the unified Heavyweight champion.
Is Robert Helenius a true contender? Or did he just get lucky on the night?
Sure Adam Kownacki looked every part of a true contender, but maybe he wasn’t. If you ask Helenius, he’ll tell you that he can beat anyone. That’s what he is supposed to say.
James “Buster” Douglass knocked out Mike Tyson in 1990, in what many still believe is the biggest upset in boxing history. He would go on to lose his very next fight against Evander Holyfield. Leon Spinks handed Muhammad Ali a surprising loss in 1978. He would also go on to his very next fight, and 16 more throughout his career.
Helenius seems destined for that same fate. It may have been a great win for him, but as far as being a big time player in the Heavyweight division, it seems unlikely.