Tum. Tum. Ta! The punches pierce the mitts, and trainer Johan Lindström’s hands are working hard as the joints and muscles try to resist the heavy hammer of a punch of his protégé, Robert Helenius, The Nordic Nightmare.
There are only two days remaining to the fight for the WBC Silver Heavyweight Title at Helsinki Arena, where Helenius will face Johann “The Reptile” Duhaupas.
At Ruskeasuo Sports Hall on Thursday afternoon in Helsinki, Helenius drilled the focus mitts under the eyes of the press as he would behind the closed doors. This was his first training session today, so it was an exciting opportunity to witness the heavyweight giant’s improved skillset.
Helenius had just arrived from a four-week sparring camp from Pajulahti, near the southern city of Lahti, where he sparred 108 rounds. To be exact.
“One of our sparring partners liked to take punches to the midsection,” Lindström said to me after the training. “But after the session, he walked out of the ring with his ribs hurting and said that he would rather take a jab to the face,” Lindström laughed.
Johann Duhaupas stepped in front of the cameras looking confident. His manager said that the French champion would only show some light shadow boxing and rope work, as he already had one training session behind him. At this point, there should be no risks taken for overtraining.
Duhaupas displayed some quick hand combinations, he was light on his feet and was extremely skilled with the rope.
He seemed ready and for tactical reasons held back even during the Q&A with the media where the most eager of the newsmen tried to get him to reveal his tactics.
“I will punch with the right hand,” Duhaupas said.
“In what round will we see the knockout?”
“You will have to come to the Arena and see.”
He, however, said that he would rank Helenius among the “four most important opponents of his career.”
Indeed, the winner of the fight will rank among the top 10 contenders for the WBC heavyweight title, currently held by the US pugilist, Deontay Wilder. To be specific: the WBC world champion will have to face the silver title holder after defending the world title twice against the top 15 contenders.
Helenius also had good things to say about Duhaupas: “He is a big guy with a big heart who likes to push forward towards your face.”
Duhaupas indeed proved his heart in the face-off against Wilder in September 2015. Duhaupas pushed forward and was persistent until the 11th round, when he suffered a knockout. After the fight Wilder wondered if Duhaupas “had cement in his chin, or something.”
“However, I punch much harder than Wilder,” Helenius said after the training.
“He will not last long.”
Lindström said that Helenius will knock the French boxer out in the sixth round.
“That’s what I decided right now,” he said and winked his eye.
Robert Helenius, 32, Finland. Height: 200cm. Fights: 22W, 0L, 0D
Johann Duhaupas, 35, France. Height: 195cm. Fights: 33W, 3L, 0D
Helenius VS Duhaupas WBC Silver Heavyweight title at Helsinki Arena on April 2 2016.