The Barclays Center has seen its fair share of moments in the boxing world. From Deontay Wilder’s dramatic knockouts to Keith Thurman’s comeback fight, there has always something to talk about during fight events. Now, we can add one more, courtesy of “The Nordic Nightmare” himself.
Robert Helenius walked into a hostile Barclays Center to take on a knockout artist in Adam Kownacki. He overpowered “Babyface” in the fourth round, forcing the referee to call the fight off.
“I want to thank everyone who gave me this opportunity, Helenius stated after the fight. “Kownacki is a tough fighter. I worked hard in training camp and it paid off.”
Kownacki (20-1) came into the bout a -3060 favorite. It could be seen with the Barclays Center crowd cheering on his name, from his entrance to the time of the first bell. Helenius (30-3) didn’t seem to mind however, as he was smiling ear to ear, like he said he would in a FIGHT SPORTS exclusive.
Helenius used the jab early, while Kownacki already was using his hooks. Coming in close, Kownacki rushed in and attempted to suffocate Helenius. Within the clinch, Kownacki blasted Kownacki’s body and head with heavy shots. He had Helenius up against the ropes and tried whatever he could to bring the big man down. It appeared as though this would be another Kownacki slugfest that would lead to a win.
Helenius, however, had other plans in mind. “The Nordic Knightmare” hit Kownacki with shots to the face, while Kownacki tried to fight from within the clinch again. Helenius ended up tagging Kownacki with shots, and the two decided to trade back and forth shots against one another to end the round.
Round three saw Kownacki continue to reach towards the body of Helenius. He ended up having an opening and used it to hit Helenius with continuous shots. Once again, it was thought this would be it for a Kownacki opponent.
Helenius, once again, had other thoughts in mind.
There was a slipup by Kownacki as he was throwing punches in the fourth. Helenius took advantage of that and knocked Kownacki down. It was a stunning moment that gave the man from Finland the advantage. He never looked back. Helenius pressed on Kownacki all over the ring until the referee called off the fight.
“I knew that I hit him hard and I knew I just had to continue,” said Helenius. “I knew he was still hurt after that punch.
“Kownacki just kept coming and coming. He’s a good fighter I have to give it to him. My strength is to punch back when people come at me. It was a good fight and a tremendous opportunity for me to be here.”
With the win, Helenius is on a two-fight win streak. He is also one of the mandatory challengers for the WBA World Heavyweight TItle, held by Anthony Joshua.
With the loss, Kownacki ends a winning streak that started in 2009. It was also his first loss inside the Barclays Center.
“It wasn’t my night,” said Kownacki. “It’s boxing. It’s a tough sport and things just didn’t go my way tonight. It was a learning experience and I’m going to go back to the drawing board and get back to work.
Main Card (8 p.m. ET, FOX)
Robert Helenius def. Robert Kownacki via TKO (1:08 into round four) – WBA Heavyweight Title Eliminator
Efe Ajagba def. Razvan Cojanu via TKO (2:46 into round nine)
Frank Sanchez def. Joey Dawejko via unanimous decision (98-92, 100-90, 100-90)- NABO Heavyweight Championship
Prelims (5:45 p.m. ET)
Zachary Ochoa def. Angel Sarinana via unanimous decision (77-73, 77-73, 76-74)
Aronold Gonzalez def. Traye Labby via TKO (2:07 into round three)
Francis Hogan def. Brent Oren via KO (2:11 into the fourth)