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Afirm handshake, and a look toward the roof, where the eyes meet a gentle-looking giant, whose beard has become thicker since I last saw him in December.
“It looks damn good for you. Your career is taking huge steps forward!”
“Thanks! Yeah, it’s about time,” says Robert Helenius, 32, Finland’s number ONE boxer, on a Monday afternoon in February at the Apollo Live Club in Helsinki.
Helenius is here to promote his upcoming fight against Frenchman Johann “Reptile” Duhaupas for the WBC silver heavyweight title in a 12-round fight on April 2 at the Helsinki Arena. The fight is major business for Helenius – a win would take him very close to a world title fight in the near future.
Duhaupas is a tough cookie to crack. He fought against the American WBC world heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, in September 2015. Duhaupas fought persistently until 11 rounds (12-round fight), when the referee stopped the fight after a barrage of wild punches by Wilder. “He had a hell of a chin. He had like cement in his chin, or something . . . ,” Wilder said after the fight. “Many times I’d punch him, but he would just stall there.”
[alert type=red ]”He had a hell of a chin. He had like cement in his chin, or something . . . ,” Wilder said after the fight against Duhaupas. “Many times I’d punch him, but he would just stall there.”[/alert]
Helenius won the European title last December, in a fight where he knocked down German Franz Rill twice at the sold-out Helsinki Arena.
According to the rules and regulations, Helenius was supposed to defend his title against the German, Erkan Teper. Teper, however, was caught from doping. The winner of the fight would have had to face the UK fighter Derek Chisora (whom Helenius beat with one hand in December 2011), but Helenius refused and in result had to vacate the European title belt. “Climbing the ladder on the ranking list of major organizations is essential at this point. The vision should be focused on bigger events,” Helenius said earlier.
Winning the WBC silver title would provide Helenius a solid chance to face world champion Wilder. The WBC world champion will have to face the silver title holder after defending the world title twice against the top 15 contenders.
Johann Duhaupas, 35, is a French champion who has a record of 33 wins and three losses. He is 1.95 metres tall, which makes his reach similar of Helenius’, who’s height is two metres. Helenius is undefeated with 22 wins under his belt.
More interesting is the fact that Duhaupas has the durability and heart of Rocky. This he proved in the fight against the American champion. Wilder, standing two-metres tall, has a similar reach to the Frenchman, but seemed technically better and punched harder. Duhaupas, however, showed little respect for Wilder’s attributes and kept pushing forward to close range – angling, ducking, slipping, waving; taking punches and delivering hard ones. In result, Wilder’s left eye swell shut early in the rounds. “That’s a tough tough guy right there, Johann Duhaupas,” one of the commentators said during the fight.
Duhaupas is arriving to Helsinki with nothing but a win in mind. By winning the fight he would get another shot at Wilder or could face the number one contender for the champion at the moment, Alexander Povetkin, whom Helenius sparred in last October. Of course, the stakes are the same for Helenius. “It will be a fierce boxing match. I will knock him out before full rounds. We won’t see a similar result as happened with Deontay Wilder,” Duhaupas says in a bulletin. “You are welcome to try!” Helenius exclaims on Facebook.
I bet the giant doesn’t look too gentle anymore.
Helenius VS Duhaupas WBC Silver Heavyweight title at Helsinki Arena on April 2 2016. The ticket sales begin on Monday February 15.