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German boxer Konstantin Airich screamed in pain and gasped for air. Robert Helenius’ fierce right hook right hook to the body of his opponent had sent Airich on his knees as if praying for mercy.
The eight-round fight lasted only 49 seconds.
“I saw that the punch hit him very badly. He even screamed,” Helenius said after the fight on Saturday evening at the Baltic Hall, Mariehamn, the capital of Åland Islands.
For the readers of Finland Today, Robert Helenius, the two meters tall “Nordic Nightmare,” hardly needs an introduction. (Take a look in our archives.) He is the most prominent Finnish heavyweight boxer. The only one.
The win for Helenius was absolutely crucial. He had been carrying a monkey on his back since April, when he suffered his first loss in his professional record of 22 wins after being knocked out badly by the French fighter Johann Duhaupas in a WBC Silver Heavyweight title fight at Helsinki Arena. Helenius dominated the fight in the early rounds, but then Duhaupas’ right cross knocked him out in the sixth . . . also dropping Helenius from the list of top contenders for the world championship title.
Helenius was devastated, promised to come back stronger. And, on Saturday, delivered.
Airich who is known as the “Sandman” was no joke (He has a professional boxing record of 42 fights, 23 wins, 17 losses and 2 draws.). He is shorter (1.85 meters) and obviously has a shorter reach, but he packs hard punching power. So in the fight on Saturday he tried to get close but Helenius kept him away with his improved and swift footwork. Airich’s punches landed in the air after he unsuccessfully tried to corner Helenius in the ropes in the early seconds of the round. Then Helenius knocked him down.
After his loss in April, Helenius had receded to Åland Islands, home, to gather his strength and improve his skills. He wanted to stay close to his family and to put it all in, he built a boxing gym on the island.
In a clip filmed in the beginning of September, Helenius’ footwork already seemed to be on another level; it was lighter, he slipped, bobbed and weaved, parried and punched with rhythm and broken rhythm. You could see the influence of the world champion title holder, Tyson Fury, the unorthodox British boxer, who defeated the long-reigning world champion Wladimir Klitschko last November. Helenius had sparred 40 rounds with Fury in May.
Before facing Fury, Helenius said that he was nervous. “In the back of my head, I was in fear that the same (being knocked down) would happen again. It’s hard to defeat your problems at home, so you just have to work for them,” he said. “I had to get rid of my fear and be able to continue my career.”
While training with Fury, Helenius was advised to make a few technical changes to unleash his full potential. Since April, Helenius has sparred 100 rounds against different opponents.
During the weigh-in on Friday evening at Paf Casino in Åland, Helenius weighed 118.8 kilograms, while Airich weighed 105.1 kilos. “I will knock him down without mercy when a suitable opportunity arises, before that we will punch and move,” Helenius said.
And that’s exactly what he did.
For an extensive of Robert Helenius’ fight history click on the link for our archives.