Deontay Wilder Destroys Helenius With Massive 1st Round KO
NEW YORK – Welcome back, Deontay Wilder.
The former longtime WBC heavyweight titleholder scored a gargantuan first-round knockout, obliterating Robert Helenius with a crushing right hand in a WBC semifinal title elimination bout in the main event of the Premier Boxing Champions Fox Sports pay-per-view card on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
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Wilder, one of the most devastating punchers in boxing history, turned out the lights on Helenius as he emphatically returned from a year layoff.
“The Bronze Bomber” was fighting for the first time since completing his epic trilogy with Tyson Fury, whom he was 0-2-1 against with two knockout losses, including in the 11th round of their instant-classic trilogy fight last October that was the runaway 2021 fight of the year.
After that harsh defeat, Wilder said he strongly considered retirement. He decided to resume his career in May following an outpouring of love and support from his hometown fans in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the city unveiled a life size statue of him to honor of his accomplishments.
That set the stage for the fight with Helenius, with whom Wilder has sparred many rounds and has been friendly with for years.
Wilder, who successfully defended the WBC heavyweight title 10 times during his 2015 to 2020 reign, put himself in position for a final eliminator against former unified titlist Andy Ruiz Jr, who won his semifinal by decision over Luis Ortiz in September.
“It’s just amazing to be back in Brooklyn. It’s like a second home to me,” Wilder said of the arena where he was headlining for the fifth time and also scored other huge knockouts, including against Bermane Stiverne in their rematch, Dominic Breazeale, Ortiz in their first fight and Artur Szpilka. “It feels so good to be back. When I got off the plane, I felt the great energy and the love, and that’s all I needed.
“It’s been a good camp for me. We worked to make this fun for me. We work at this so much that it can just become a job. We made it fun again. We put in over 700 rounds and it paid off tonight big time.”
The fight began with the 6-foot-7, 214.5-pound Wilder, who was outweighed by nearly 40 pounds against the 6-6, 253.25-pounds Helenius, moving much more than usual. He was on his toes against the more lumbering Helenius.
When Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs), 36, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, launched his first big right hand he missed wildly. But as the round wound down and they were in close, he fired another one over the top that connected cleanly to Helenius’ face that dropped him flat on his back with a vacant look in his eyes.
Referee Michael Griffin quickly called it off at 2 minutes, 57 seconds and Helenius was down for several minutes in a scary scene. Wilder landed three of 17 total punches, according to CompuBox, but only one mattered.
Helenius was taken from the Barclays Center to nearby Lutheran Hospital as a precaution after the knockout.
Helenius (31-4, 20 KOs ), 38, of Finland, who landed 5 of 22 punches, got the fight based largely on back-to-back upset knockouts of then-rising contender Adam Kownacki, including in front of Kownacki hometown fans at Barclays Center in March 2000 to taker his perfect record, and in the rematch on the Fury-Wilder III undercard in October 2021.
But Wilder is no Kownacki.
“Robert has the heart of a champion and I knew what he was capable of,” Wilder said. “I didn’t take him lightly at all. I know that he really wanted this. When you fight Deontay Wilder, you have to have you’re A-plus-plus game.
“I set him up. I allowed him to reach and when he reached I attacked. It was a great fight.”
Now all questions will turn to what’s next for Wilder. It could be a final eliminator against Ruiz but there has also been talk of a win leasing to a shot at three-belt titleholder Oleksandr Usyk.
“I’ve been hearing rumors about Usyk but he’s not here is he? When guys see these knockouts they turn the corner away from me,” Wilder said. “I’m ready for whatever. Whether it’s Andy Ruiz Jr. or Usyk, I’m ready.
“Deontay is back and the excitement in the heavyweight division is back.”