NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder delivered another unforgettable knockout Saturday night at Barclays Center.
The former WBC heavyweight champion knocked Robert Helenius unconscious with one of his trademark right hands late in the first round of his comeback bout from his own devastating defeat to Tyson Fury 53 weeks earlier in Las Vegas. Helenius rushed forward, face-first, as Wilder backed toward a neutral corner and paid the ultimate price, as Wilder drilled him with a right hand that knocked Helenius flat on his back.
Referee Michael Griffin considered counting, but he didn’t bother once he realized the 38-year-old Helenius was in no condition to continue. The official time of the stoppage was 2:57 of the first round.
According to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics, just the third punch Wilder landed Saturday night emphatically ended his scheduled 12-round fight versus Helenius.
“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.”
Wilder’s win punctuated his return from his costly loss to the undefeated Fury in their third WBC heavyweight title fight last October 9. Fury viciously knocked out Wilder in the 11th round after surviving two fourth-round knockdowns at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The 36-year-old Wilder, of Tuscloosa, Alabama, improved to 43-2-1 and recorded his 42nd knockout by annihilating Helenius. Finland’s Helenius (31-4, 20 KOs), one of Wilder’s former sparring partners, lost by knockout for the third time in his star-crossed career.
France’s Johann Duhaupas knocked out Helenius in the sixth round of their April 2016 bout in Helsinki, Finland. American Gerald Washington then knocked out Helenius in the eighth round in July 2019 at The Armory in Minneapolis.
Helenius bounced back from what seemed to be a career-crushing loss to Washington by stopping previously undefeated Adam Kownacki in back-to-back bouts. Brooklyn’s Kownacki (20-2, 15 KOs), a popular Polish fighter who has drawn considerable crowds to Barclays Center, was always a potential opponent for Wilder at this arena, thus Helenius replaced him in that sense.
Wilder, meanwhile, has knocked out all five of his opponents at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the home arena of the NBA’s Nets.
Before Helenius, he knocked out Artur Szpilka, Bermane Stiverne, Luis Ortiz and Dominic Breazeale at Barclays Center. The Stiverne and Breazeale knockouts also came in the first round.
“It’s just amazing to be back in Brooklyn,” Wilder said. “It’s like a second home to me. 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.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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