When Robert Helenius entered the ring last Saturday night, October 15, against Deontay Wilder, he had one thought on his mind: winning.
Helenius danced around the ring with his former sparring partner, awaiting to press at the right moment. And he thought he found it when Wilder was cornered with just seconds left in the opening round.
Two sounds echoed throughout the Barclays Center moments before Helenius hit the canvas after Wilder’s quick right-hand punch: the “thump” of the hit and the crowd going wild.
“It was a good punch. Nobody even saw it,” Markus Sundman, Helenius’ manager, told FIGHT SPORTS.
“I only heard it ringside… You heard the ‘thump’ and the other one was going down… then I saw Robert falling.”
Helenius laid on the mat for quite some time before eventually getting up.
“He was a little disoriented… talking slurry.. You are always sent to the hospital for that,” Sundman said. “But everything seemed to be fine… He hit the back of his head pretty bad in the ring going down, so I think that also added to the punch.
He was taken to the hospital for safety precautions, but was allowed to return to his hotel some time before the next day.
Wilder, meanwhile, had an emotional breakdown during the post-fight press conference, emphasizing that boxing is a serious sport, and that he doesn’t know if Helenius will be the same after that knockout. The former WBC heavyweight champion said that he doesn’t intend to physically hurt others, but he’s just doing his job to provide for his family.
On Sunday, Wilder stopped by Helenius’ hotel room to apologize for the knockout.
“You okay? I love you man. I’m sorry,” Wilder said in the video.
Helenius replied: “Don’t be sorry. This is your time, I’m out, I’ve been doing this for 25 years. Thanks for the opportunity.”
“Wilder’s a good guy,” Sundman said of the video. “Of course he was worried.”
Wilder has been labeled as one of the hardest hitters in boxing history. In all of his 46 fights, only current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former champion Bermane Stiverne did not succumb to Wilder’s power.
“[Helenius] is devastated [about the loss]. So disappointed,” Sundman said.
“This was his big shot and [he] got this close and to get taken out in the first round.. Of course, the worst thing to happen.
“But he’ll get over it. Continuing wise… I don’t know. I told him take his family to vacation so they went up north [in Finland] today. They’ll stay a week… When he’s ready, he’ll get back to me.”
Sundman added that they won’t be discussing Helenius’ next steps until next month. Sundman also denied to comment on whether Helenius will retire or not because he wants to leave it up to his fighter. He emphasized not wanting to influence Helenius in any way.
Before entering the ring last Saturday, Helenius had plans to fight until he was 40 – but that was given that he defeated Wilder.
Now, Wilder moves onto another heavyweight title eliminator and is rumored to be ordered by the WBC to take on Andy Ruiz Jr next.
Helenius, on the other hand, is taking time off with his family and will regroup when he returns. If he does get back into the ring, Sundman agreed that his fighter can still take on the top heavyweights.