Kubrat Pulev, who is very much in position for a shot at Anthony Joshua, is likely to face Robert Helenius on the under-card of the April 20th clash between WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford and challenger Amir Khan – so reports Dan Rafael of ESPN.com. The fight, one that would be the first fight in Pulev’s new deal with Top Rank, is currently being worked on.
The once-beaten Pulev, last seen winning a wide decision over former WBO heavyweight title challenger Hughie Fury, is the IBF mandatory challenger and the Bulgarian is waiting for his shot at WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight ruler Joshua. Helenius has seen better days, but the man from Finland remains a recognisable name and he is both experienced and tough.
Helenius, 28-2(17) is the younger man by a couple of years at 35, and he has won three in a row since dropping a wide and dull decision to Dillian Whyte in October of 2017. In his last fight, a wild affair with Erkan Teper in September of last year, Helenius scored an eighth-round KO that managed to revive his career at least somewhat. If Helenius can upset Pulev he will be back in force in a major way.
Still, Pulev will no doubt enter the ring (venue still to be confirmed for Crawford-Khan) as a substantial favourite to win. Durable, ultra-experienced and physically imposing, Pulev is a classic case of a fighter who looks easier to deal with than he actually is – as the much younger Fury found out in October of last year. A decision fight does look likely here. Pulev, 26-1(13) has a fine chin – with only a dominant Wladimir Klitschko managing to stop him, inside five exciting rounds back in November of 2014 – and Helenius has been stopped just once, by Frenchman Johan Duhaupas in an upset in April of 2016.
Who knows what kind of a fight we will get when these two collide (providing they do of course). Helenius showed virtually no ambition in the Whyte fight, and if this version of the tall Finn turns up Pulev will bully him and pound out a clear win. But if Helenius is in the mood to let his hands go, as he was in the Teper brawl, we could get an interesting, maybe exciting fight.
Pulev via decision looks a good bet and it’s up to Helenius to make Pulev uncomfortable and shake things up.