By Johnny Walker
Former WBO heavyweight champion Sergei “The White Wolf” LIakhovich, who is preparing to challenge rising heavyweight star Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius next Saturday (Aug. 27) in Efurt, Germany, has revealed that he turned down an offer to face one of the world heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers in order to face Finnish fighter.
Liakhovich advisor Anthony Cardinale tells Full Court Press that Liakhovich was “offered three times more money than this purse to fight one of the Klitschko brothers before Christmas. Sergei and I believe that there will be considerable more demand (and therefore much more money) for a Klitschko title fight following his defeat of Helenius. It was Sergei’s choice, and one I admire and respect.”
Liakhovich (25-3, 16 KOs) made his name with one of the best heavyweight tilts of the last decade, an exciting UD win over Lamon Brewster back in 2006. He then went on to surrender his belt in a bizarre last-second loss to Shannon Briggs that same year. Since that time, due to injury and management issues, his career has been stuck in neutral.
Liakhovich’s decision to go after Helenius (15-0, 10 KOs) will either look brilliant or foolish depending on the outcome. Helenius has career momentum, having knocked former WBC heavyweight champ Sam Peter cold in his last bout. His heavy hands caused another victim, the previously mentioned Lamon Brewster, to accuse the Finn of using loaded gloves.
Still, Liakhovich, 35, feels his experience will give him the advantage over Helenius, 27, and has even rehired the trainer who helped him to beat Brewster, Kenny Weldon, to try to give him an extra edge in the fight.
“My experience is a huge advantage in this fight,” Liakhovich says. “I have been to war and back several times in my boxing career. There is no substitute for experience. Kenny and I are on the same page.”
Helenius, however, believes that his recent experience of winning over name opposition has given him the edge in this contest.
“I am in great shape and I am ready for Liakhovich,” Helenius declares.
“He is a very accomplished fighter who boasts a great deal of experience, but I have also been in the ring with former champions. The fights against Peter and Brewster have given me a lot of confidence. I am eager to notch another important victory on Saturday night.”
Liakhovich versus Helenius (along with a co-headline heavyweight bout featuring Alexander Povetkin facing Ruslan Chagaev) will air live in the US on the EPIX cable network, including a free promotional online stream at EpixHD.com.