Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) knocked out his old sparring partner Robert Helenius (31-4, 20 KOs) with a scorching right hand to the head late in the first round on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Deontay had done very little up until landing the bone-crunching right hand to the head of the lumbering 253-lb Helenius.
The shot from Wilder was a short right hand that surprisingly had enough power on it to send Helenius down flat on his back on the canvas, with eyes wide open.
It was a similar knockout to the one Wilder performed against Tyson Fury in their first fight in 2018, but in this case, the referee did the right thing by stopping the contest rather than giving a count to the unconscious Helenius.
While he was down, Helenius was staring straight up at the lights with eyes that weren’t seeing anything. He was clearly out cold with his eyes open.
Earlier in the round, the 38-year-old Helenius had been unable to get near enough to Wilder to land anything of substance. The constant circling of the ring by Wilder prevented the painfully slow Helenius from getting in punching range to land one of his big shots.
Wilder wasn’t landing much either due to his movement. Before the knockout, Wilder landed only a couple of decent shots, but nothing big. At one point, Wilder missed with a huge right hand that had knockout written all over it. Helenius then shoved Wilder back hard.
The victory for Wilder puts him back in the thick of things in the division. Unified champion Oleksandr Usyk was supposedly going to be at the fight tonight. Usyk might have second thoughts about using Wilder as a plan B option if his negotiations with Tyson Fury fail to produce a fight.
The power that Wilder showed with the short right hand was nothing short of devastating. Even if Usyk fought the perfect fight, he’d get nailed by one of Wilder’s big right hands sooner or later, and then it would be good night.
It’s questionable whether Wilder’s movement would have served him well tonight if the fight had gone into the later rounds. Wilder’s legs likely would have weakened at some point from the movement, and that would have made him vulnerable to Helenius’ big shots.