Heavyweight boxing is a tough business. Fans need to be impressed to stay loyal, and average viewers need to be impressed to make them fans.
So, Robert Helenius, 33, (24 wins, 1 loss), the Finnish hope in heavyweight boxing, was more than happy to accept a fight against his British counterpart, Dereck Chisora, 33, (26 wins, 7 losses), a boxer who is well respected in boxing circles and will be well respected by those who just happen to turn on the TV at the right time. He is tough. He has skills. And the winner would have had the honor to face the World Champion Deontay Wilder. But the fight, which was supposed to happen on May 27 at the Helsinki Arena, was canceled.
Six months of preparation in a sweaty and draining training camp in the Åland Islands was to become as worthy as yesterday’s toilet paper.
At first, the fans became furious. “How will we get our money back?” No problem here. The promoter of the fight, Sauerland Promotion, was well prepared and offered a full refund. Some fans turned their anger against Helenius. “What’s the matter? Did you become scared at the very last minute??”
The promoter finally sent a bulletin to the media: “It is with regret that we have been forced to reschedule this event, but due to a number of contributing factors, this has been a necessary decision,’’ said Sauerland.
[alert type=red ]“When we take a step back, we’re not retreating – we’re just gathering momentum.”[/alert]
One of the contributing factors was lazy advertising. Despite two press conferences, the advertising was non-existent in the light of such a high-stake fight. “It makes me think, whether the promoter had any intentions to arrange the fight at all. I feel like they didn’t,” said a source close to the promotion business. When the news of the cancellation started spreading, Helenius was still publishing Instagram clips from his six-week sparring camp, emphasizing his top condition.
After a week from the announcement, Helenius was ready to speak about the initial shock: “I am ready for the fight, so I was shocked to hear that Sauerland decided to postpone it. I am sad to disappoint my fans, but I will keep training as planned to keep in the form both mentally and physically,” Helenius said.
Helenius’ trainer, Johan Lindström, summarized their team’s mentality perfectly: “When we take a step back, we’re not retreating – we’re just gathering momentum.” Helenius’ team started looking for opportunities to utilize their hard work.
Ervin Kade, a boxing coordinator with a thick phonebook of pugilists looking for their big chance, turned his sight to Britain. “It’s not easy to find a boxer who would want to step into the ring with Robert, especially on such short notice. Many are simply scared of him after the two last fights,” he said.
It makes sense: his German counterpart, Konstantin Airich, [highlight color=#FFFF00 ]screamed in pain and gasped for air for in only 49 seconds[/highlight]; [highlight color=#FFFF00 ]Helenius knocked out his Argentinian opponent Gonzalo Omar Basile[/highlight] a second faster – in 48 seconds!
Kade found the perfect replacement for Chisora in Ian Lewison, 35, (12 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw), a man of about the same height and weight and fight style, and who also had his fight canceled in his home country. The bout was going to be arranged at Kalev Sports Hall, across the bay in Tallinn, Estonia.
Lewison arrived in Tallinn as planned. On Thursday, the fight was canceled. The British Boxing Association had revoked his license to face Helenius. “Apparently, it’s related to medical reasons, which are not revealed because of legislative reasons,” Kade said.
Now there was no time to waste. Kade reached his long promotional arm to Russia and grabbed the 207-centimeteres tall Evgeny Orlov by the neck. Orlov, 38, (17 wins, 14 losses, 1 draw), known as “The Molecule From Hell,” agreed to jump on the plane and to face Helenius.
Orlov has fought tough opponents before. He lost to the most prominent Swedish heavyweight, Adrian Granat, in the second round by a knockout in February 2016. His last fight against Igor Pylypenko (5 wins, 33 losses, 2 draws) at a Chinese restaurant in Saint Petersburg was victorious.
At the weigh-in in Tallinn, Helenius stared confidently at his opponent. Prepared mentally, confident to face any opponent who steps into the ring. Orlov pushed the scale to 138.5 kilos. Helenius weighed 108.7 kilos, looking lean and strong.
The 10-round fight for the vacant WBC International Silver heavyweight title, after all its twists and turns, will go off at the Kalev Sports Hall late on Saturday evening as another entertaining obstacle for Helenius to get closer to the world title fight. A win would absolutely knock off any uncertainties from the rescheduled fight against Chisora.
Helenius versus Orlov is one of the most powerful boxing duels in the history of Estonia, as, according to the organizers, there has never been a fight of such magnitude in the northern Baltic State.