By: Hans Themistode
Unpredictability has always been the name of the game when it comes to boxing’s Heavyweight division.
Unlike most weight classes, you just never know what you’re going to get once the big guys step inside of the ring. And on March 7th 2020, at Barclay Center in Brooklyn New York, that unpredictability was on full display.
Evaluating a fighter takes a bit of time. So deciding to take out the pen and paper and hand a grade to them during the first few years of their career is incredibly unfair. Yet, in the case of Robert Helenius, the grade on him seemed beyond fair.
Helenius proved that he was a legit contender with solid wins over Samuel Peter and Dereck Chisora. But he also proved that he was more of the fringe variety rather than an actual threat with knockout losses to Johann Duhaupas and Gerald Washington.
He was solid. Nothing spectacular. More of a stepping stone sort of fighter. If you lost to him, then you were never a true contender in the division. If you picked up a win against him, well, you still weren’t considered a contender just yet. But you were ready for the next step.
For the formerly undefeated Adam Kownacki, he was in search of the latter. The Brooklyn raised Kownacki scored three solid wins in a row over Charles Martin, Chris Arreola and Gerald Washington. So when both Kownacki and Helenius met up on March 7th, many expected him to make it four in a row.
Everything seemed simple and pretty easy to follow. Helenius was knocked out by Gerald Washington in the eighth round of their contest in 2019. Kownacki on the other hand, destroyed Washington in the second round of their match in the very same year.
Fortunately for Helenius, that didn’t have a trickle effect on him as he dropped and ultimately stopped Kownacki in the fourth round.
It was a major win for Helenius. And now, he’s trying to use his massive upset to launch himself towards the top of the division.
“I think it would be a very interesting fight,” said Helenius when discussing a matchup with unified champ Anthony Joshua. “I would like that very much. It would be fireworks and tactics, of course. But I think it would be a very, very interesting fight for me.”
Huge upsets in the sport of boxing has a tendency to lead fighters into the biggest fights of their careers shortly after.
After scoring one of the biggest upsets of the year in 2013, with a win over Adrien Broner, Marcos Maidana walked into the two biggest fights of his life with back to back contests against Floyd Mayweather. Corrie Saunders in 2003, grabbed a huge upset win over Wladimir Klitschko which subsequently landed him a one sided butt kicking against his older brother Vitali Klitschko. More recently, Ivan Redkach parlayed a huge win over former champion Devon Alexander in 2019, into the biggest fight of his life against Danny Garcia earlier this year.
It’s scenarios such as those, coupled with Joshua’s recent loss against Andy Ruiz Jr, that has Helenius not only believing that he should be next in line for Joshua, but that he can also beat him.
“I was very surprised that he got knocked down by Andy Ruiz Jr. He made mistakes, but he did well in the second fight. Ruiz and me are very different fighters. We are the same height, Anthony and me. I’ve been there in a sparring camp with him. I have nothing personal against him, he’s a very good guy. I think very highly of him and I like him a lot, but I think I would beat him.”
With fighters such as Dillian Whyte, Oleksandr Usyk, Luis Ortiz and a slew of others still presumably ahead of him, Helenius isn’t expected to walk into a title shot just yet. But he’s alright with that. He simply wants to fight the best.
“I hope I will get the biggest fight. I don’t really care who I’m fighting next. I’m going to be ready for whoever comes in my way.”