by Johnny Walker
Returning to the ring today in Helsinki, Finland, after almost a year out of action, Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius didn’t resemble the destruction machine who mowed down past champions like Sergei Liakhovich, Samuel Peter and Lamon Brewster.
Helenius (18-0, 11 KOs) was facing a spoiler in durable veteran Sherman “The Tank” Williams, and found it hard to look good over ten rounds against a much shorter foe who he had trouble finding with his punches in the first part of the fight.
Helenius seemed tentative, too laid-back, too interested in touching gloves with Williams instead of knocking him out. The Finn is known for his killer instinct, but he surely misplaced it today.
Helenius’s work-rate was too low, and during one lull in the fight in round six, Williams staggered him with an overhand right that saw Helenius’s knees buckle momentarily. He was forced to hold on as the round ended.
That punch seemed to rouse Helenius from his slumber, and he took over and dominated Williams in round seven, landing some thudding body punches that hurt “The Tank.” Helenius remained in control for the rest of the fight.
The judges scored it 99-91, 99-93, and 98-93 for The Nordic Nightmare.
Helenius can be given some leeway here, as this was a comeback fight from a bad shoulder injury that could have been career-ending. Hopefully he will overcome the tentativeness that marred his effort today.
But Helenius will need to step it up big-time if he is to take on the formidable unbeaten Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev for the European heavyweight title that he held before the injury. If it had been Pulev in the ring instead of Williams today, Helenius would not have heard the final bell.