By Jake Donovan
The folks at EPIX are clearly big on unbeaten heavyweight contender Robert Helenius. The towering 6’6½” Finnish boxer makes his fourth consecutive appearance on the premium cable network when he faces British journeyman Michael Sprott later today in Germany.
The bout serves as the chief support to the highly anticipated rematch between super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz, who served as champ for nearly three years prior to the close but clear points loss.
Both bouts air live on EPIX at 4PM ET/1PM, and will also stream live on EpixHD.com and via its app on X-Box consoles and RoKu players.
Helenius remains undefeated (18-0, 9KO) but not quite as high on everyone’s list of top heavyweights. Many still regard him as a Top 10 fighter, but on the outside looking in regarding discussion of the very best in the world in boxing’s biggest division.
Letdowns in back-to-back performances have knocked off much of the new penny shine from Helenius, whose EPIX debut – a 9th round stoppage of former titlist Siarhei Liakhovich in Aug. ’11 – had everyone buzzing. The feat was followed up by a highly questionable split decision over Dereck Chisora later in the year, regarded by many as among the worst decisions of 2011.
Injuries put Helenius on the shelf for most of 2012 before returning last November. His points win over Sherman Williams was packaged on EPIX with Wladimir Klitshcko’s 12-round thrashing of brave heavyweight contender Mariusz Wach. The beating dished out by Klitschko was rivaled only by that of the granite chin and massive heart exuded by his challenger.
The same was not said of Helenius, who barely caused a ripple in taking a unanimous decision.
EPIX isn’t quite ready to give up on the 29-year old, though it’s fair to say that he needs to deliver a performance worth talking about on Saturday.
“It’s an evaluation type fight,” confirmed Travis Pomposello, CCO of Epix Sports.
Helenius is prepared for a stiff challenge, though it remains to be seen whether he understands the urgent nature of looking good rather than just settling for another win.
“I was present in Nuremberg when he beat Gerber,” said Helenius, referring to Sprott’s win over Edmund Gerber in their rematch last December. “Sprott is technically gifted, so I will have to make use of my height and reach advantage. My jab could make the difference.”
So too could offering something that gives EPIX a reason to remain in the Robert Helenius business.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox