By Jake Donovan
Gerald Washington landed the biggest punch of his pro career on a night where he needed it the most.
The fringe contender scored a stunning one-punch knockout of Robert Helenius in an entertaining heavyweight battle Saturday evening at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minn.
A right hand shot put Helenius down and out at 2:30 of round eight.
It was a competitive back-and-forth contest between mid-level heavyweights prior to that point, both badly in need of a notable win to remain relevant.
For much of the fight, it appeared to be Helenius who would first cross the finish line. The Finnish boxer was fighting for the first time in the United States and also in his first fight in nearly a year. His chin was available for the type of punch that put him out for the night, but withstood Washington’s right hands early on to outland the California heavyweight,.
Helenius controlled quite a bit of the action on the strength of a steady left jab. It proved more potent than the occasional right hands from Washington, who appeared to be fatigued as the bout ventured into the later rounds.
Then came the money shot.
With the fight very much on the table, Helenius grew too comfortable with the pace of the contest, of the belief that his opponent’s gas tank was quickly running on empty. Whatever was left in Washington’s reservoir was enough to score the most dramatic win of his seven year career.
The U.S. Navy veteran and former two-way lineman for USC’s storied college football program scored a proverbial touchdown in the form of a long right hand which sent Helenius straight back to the canvas.
The 35-year old heavyweight laid along the bottom rope as referee Gary Miezwa waved off the contest.
Washington (20-3-1, 13KOs) rebounds in a big way following a 2nd round knockout loss to unbeaten Adam Kownacki this past January. It’s a fight the former heavyweight title challenger would love to have back, one where by his own admission he tried to employ a fighting style that proved to be a horrible fit.
Where he goes from here remains to be seen. As long as he remains on the PBC circuit, he will never be at a shortage of available heavyweight opponents.
The bout served as the chief support of a PBC on FS1 telecast headlined by a welterweight crossroads bout between local favorite Jamal James and Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox