Adam Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) was taken apart by the “Nordic Nightmare” Robert Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs) in a disappointing fourth-round knockout in their high stakes fight on Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Kownacki showed no respect for the massive power that Helenius possesses and he was promptly knocked out in the 4th round after being dropped once.
The loss has for Kownacki, 30, has ramifications on his career since this was a WBA heavyweight title eliminator. Kownacki would have been a mandatory challenger to WBA champion Anthony Joshua.
By fighting recklessly against Helenius, Kownacki was knocked out, and he now has to rebuild his career. Poland born has been a professional for 11 years now, and who knows how long it’ll take for him to get in position for another title eliminator.
Helenius: Kownacki was TOO wide open
“It feels good. We’ve been training hard, and that’s what I said before,” said Helenius after the fight. “He was too open, and he was coming. with my strength, it was to counter punch him. That’s always been my strength in boxing. So I think he was too open. Yes,” said Helenius when asked if his strategy all along was to take advantage of Kownacki being open when he attacks,” said Helenius.
As Helenius points out, the game plan going into Saturday’s fight with Kownacki was to take advantage of the way he leaves himself open when attacking. Kownacki, 30, didn’t use any head movement when punching, and that made him an easy target for the power shots from Helenius.
In watching the fight, it was surprising that Kownacki’s training team hadn’t fixed his defense by having him use at least a little bit of head and upper body movement to keep from getting hit. Unfortunately, they never taught him that, and now he’s paid a steep price in losing for the first time.
If they’re going to fight again, it’s important that Kownacki try be a little more subtle when attacking. It’s unclear whether he can do that though. With Kownacki’s heavy 266 pound physique., he’s going to be there to be hit no matter how much movement he uses.
Kownacki rematch possible for Helenius
“Of course, he’s a tough man,” Helenius said of Kownacki. “It was either way. ‘I’m going to give everything now.’ No,” Helenius said when asked if he was hurt in the second or third round.
“I have to think about it [giving Kownacki an immediate rematch]. I have to take a couple of days off, and just relax. I’ve been training like a crazy dog for many, many months now. I need a break of a couple of weeks to be with the family and do nothing,” said Helenius.
Does Kownacki rate a rematch? Helenius doesn’t gain anything from fighting Kownacki again, as he’s now the WBA mandatory for Anthony Joshua. However, Helenius isn’t going to get that title shot anytime soon.
Joshua has to take care of his IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev on June 20, and he’s got an IBF mandatory against Oleksandr Usyk after that. Joshua could push that fight into 2021. Since Joshua fights twice a year, if he does a unification in one of his fights in 2021, he won’t be able to fight Helenius until 2022.
While Helenius waits, he’s got to stay busy fighting heavyweights that the boxing public wants to see competing against. That probably means that Helenius will need to face Kownacki in an immediate rematch whether he likes it or not.
Helenius happy referee ruled the first knockdown a slip
“He’s got good power, but like I said before, he’s a volume puncher. He’s breaking down opponents with putting a lot of pressure on them, and he’s good at that. A slip. It was a good benefit for me because he didn’t get the count. I knew that he was wobbly,” said Helenius on the referee Dave Fields ruling that the first knockdown in the 4th was a slip.
“I was there. I saw him hurt, and I felt him hurt. If he had been given a 10 count, maybe he would have recovered better,” said Helenius.
The referee Dave Fields may have helped Helenius unwittingly by ruling that Kownacki was down from a slip during the fourth. That was when Helenius hurt Kownacki with a big shot when he had him against the ropes. By not giving a count to the badly hurt Kownacki, it left him easy prey for Helenius to hurt.
With the first punch that Helenius landed on him after the slip, Kownacki went down hard on the canvas. Helenius tagged him with a right to the head, and Kownacki went down like he was shot. He resembled a bowling pin being nailed being toppled by Helenius’ right hand.
Kownacki will need to fight Helenius in Finland for rematch
“I think the crowd treated me unfairly, but that’s normal I think,” said Helenius. “If I take the fight back to Finland, I think the crowd would probably treat him the same way. I told you what’s going to happen. I’m going to stand like this at the end of the match [Helenius stretches both arms out in victory pose].
I don’t think it matters where Kownacki fights Helenius. He’s not the type that listens to the crowd when he attacks his opponents. In Kownacki’s fights, he’s seemingly on cruise control when coming forward to attack his opponents. If it’s important for Helenius to have the crowd solely on his side, then he should take the rematch with Kownacki to Finland so he can gain an advantage. But if Helenius wants to make the most money for the second fight, he may need to do it in the U.S.
Kownacki knew he’d beat Helenius
“There was no possible way that the match would go any other way,” said Helenius. “It may seem like that outwards, but everyone has doubts about any job that they do. You’ve got to overcome, and I’ve done this for 20 years. I think I’ve found a way to defeat the mental barriers that you put on yourself. I say I have to think about it because I need a break,” said Helenius when asked who he’ll fight next.
Helenius had seen Kownacki’s fighting style and knew he could beat him. However, Helenius could have lost as well, because he was wearing down by the 4th round, and he didn’t look like he could last too much longer at the time the fight was halted. Kownacki was getting to Helenius with his combination punching, and he was wearing down. Helenius isn’t young at 36 and looked tired and somewhat old by the time the fight was halted.