By Johnny Walker
It wasn’t that long ago that Finland’s Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius (19-0, 11 KOs) was considered a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division, a possible future champion.
However, gradually over the last few years, his name has faded from the minds of heavyweight boxing fans, as he both rehabbed from a serious shoulder injury and engaged in a protracted legal battle to free himself from German promotional outfit Sauerland Event.
2011 had been a great year for Helenius, who brutally stopped former champions Samuel Peter and Sergei Liakhovich and had created a major media buzz in doing so. But when he fought for the third time in that same year, it all started to go wrong.
Helenius had injured his shoulder while training for a fight with Britain’s Dereck Chisora, and went ahead with the fight anyway. While Helenius still put up a spirited battle (Chisora admitted almost being knocked out in the first round), the shoulder injury worsened during the fight as an aggressive Chisora came on strong, losing via a highly controversial split decision.
After that, things took a turn for the worst. Helenius had to endure an operation in which muscle from his leg was transplanted to his shoulder. The healing process was slow, and the return of the man who had become a feared knockout artist has yet to take place. Helenius has been in the ring twice since his surgery, against Sherman Williams (2012) and Michael Sprott (2013), and while he won both bouts, looked far from the old “Nordic Nightmare” of early 2011.
Charges and counter-charges have since flown back and forth between the Helenius and Sauerland camps.
“These years with Sauerland have been absolute hell,” Kalle Helenius, Robert’s father, has claimed. Among the charges leveled at Sauerland Event are claims that Helenius was made to fight while injured, that his rehabilitation has been inadequate, and that he has been cheated out of money via bogus contracts.
Recently, Robert Helenius has begun posting YouTube videos of himself hitting various mechanized punching bags at maximum force, presumably in an effort to show the world that he is ready to return to action.
There have also been rumors circulating of an April fight between the 6′ 6 1/2″ tall Helenius and Russian giant Alexander Ustinov, who stands at 6′ 7 1/2″ tall.
And Team Sauerland let it be known today that they intend to resort to legal action should such a fight take place without their involvement.
A press release from Sauerland Event reads as follows:
“Team Sauerland is delighted to hear that Robert Helenius (19-0, 11 KOs) has voiced his desire to return to the ring. ‘Robert is one of the biggest heavyweight talents out there,’ Sauerland Event CEO Chris Meyer said.
“It´s a pity that he hasn´t fought in almost two years. We understand he has now announced that he wants to return on a show in Tallinn. Of course he can do whatever he wants, however, if he intends to fight again, he needs to talk to us first. We have an existing promotional agreement which we expect him to honor. We will take legal action against everybody who is undermining our contract with him. I think it would be to the benefit of everybody, especially the fight fans, if Robert focused on breaking jaws rather than laws.”
It seems before Helenius attempts to knock out Ustinov, he’ll first have to stop Team Sauerland from standing in his way.
Robert Helenius has now responded to Sauerland Event’s statement.
Helenius said in a statement of his own that his contract with Sauerland Event has “unequivocally” expired and now ceases to exist. Any further claims by Sauerland will be referred to the fighter’s legal team, he added.
Representing Helenius, Finnish lawyer Dr. Kari Uoti also says the fighter’s contract with Team Sauerland is now “terminated.”
“My job is to ensure that Robert can practice his profession,” Uoti adds.
“If Sauerland wants to quarrel, they need to contact me, and they have been informed of this.
“I do not fully understand why Sauerland wants to intervene,” says Uoti of Helenius’s future plans.