This weekend was supposed to be an easy fight for Kownacki where he’d get another decent name on his resume in front of his rabid fans before preparing for a bigger fight later in the year. He looked like he was a lock for getting a title shot within the next 12 months and with his big fan base he was now a main event fighter. Unfortunately for him The Nordic Nightmare channeled his ancestors in his ring walk and in his last real chance to get back to title contention landed the punch to change his career. Robert Helenius was once a highly regarded prospect before injuries derailed his career and everyone including me wrote him off and thought Kownacki would walk through him. We disregarded his power and I think most importantly we disregarded his will to win. Every time an upset happens I tell myself i’m going to stop underestimating fighters but a couple weeks later I go right back to doing it again and I think most combat sport fans have the same problem.
Triangle theories don’t work in boxing and thats why we need to see everyone fight each other as it makes for entertaining fights and also helps carve out a legacy for both the fighters and the era they are in if all of the top fighters consistently fight each other. We never really know if someone will beat someone else until they actually prove it in the ring and Saturday night Helenius proved that and also proved everyone wrong that doubted him.
Helenius was clearly very focused for this fight and unlike some of his previous fights was able to have a full training camp which combined with Kownacki’s lack of defence was perhaps something we should have picked up on. Helenius completely changed his career path and also how his career will be viewed by getting the win on Saturday. Hes now the WBA mandatory which means if he can hold onto the spot he will get a massive pay day and also a title shot. What I mean by changing how his career is viewed is that if he had lost last night most fans looking back would have seen him as a guy that always lost when he stepped up and was just a stepping stone for fighters in this era. With this win people will remember the time he stopped Kownacki at the Barclays Center as a massive underdog and hes now made his mark on this era of the heavyweight division.
When Helenius won I actually jumped out of my seat because I was so surprised and also happy because it was so unexpected and one of my favourite things in boxing is where a massive underdog wins. I’m glad Helenius got a perhaps career defining win as he seems like a nice guy and has had some bad luck with injurys in the past.
Kownacki will be back but he needs to improve his defense if he wants to be more than a fun TV fighter. Theres nothing wrong with being that but I imagine his goal is still to be world champion and without a better defence I don’t see that happening.
As people always say one punch can change everything in the heavyweight division but at the same time I think it’s Helenius’s 20 years of dedication to the sport that changed that fight and a small part of the heavyweight landscape.