The consensus verdict is that Finnish heavyweight prospect Robert Helenius was lucky to escape with a Split Decision against Briton Dereck Chisora on Saturday, December 3rd, and probably got away with the win only because the fight was in Helenius’s backyard of Helsinki. The controversial win has many asking if Robert Helenius hasn’t been exposed as an overrated, one-dimensional puncher rather than the guy who might sweep the heavyweight division after the Klitschko brothers retire. The same fight card has left many wondering if newly minted WBA champion Alexander Povetkin, who starched a middle-aged journeyman on the same fight card, is just an overprotected media myth.
The Nordic Nightmare – Exposed?
Any such assessment is mere hot air without looking at who Dereck Chisora is. Those who claim Helenius is “exposed” are quick to forget that Chisora is a hot prospect in his own right. “Del Boy” was slated to challenge Wladimir Klitschko prior to the David Haye fiasco. After losing the Klitschko fight, Chisora stumbled by showing up for his fight with fellow undefeated prospect Tyson Fury at a career-high weight. Chisora was rightfully whipped that night, because he was flabby and unprepared. Still, he remained only a once-beaten prospect on Saturday, and a formidable one when properly prepared, as he was going into the fight with Helenius.
The new conventional wisdom is that Helenius is there to be out-boxed, an assertion that has only some evidence to support it. Helenius is primarily a puncher, but an effective one who proved capable of overpowering and stopping the former WBO champ and able boxer, Serhei Liakhovich. He is also powerful enough to demolish the Nigerian Nightmare, Sam Peter, and pound down the usually durable Lamon Brewster.
Helenius has his limitations, but acute observers were already aware of them. Furthermore, rising fighters who are fed a diet of successively stiffer challenges sometimes experience hiccups, and are made better for overcoming them. Helenius vs. Chisora was a close fight, and it’s not like Helenius was flattened (like, say, Wladimir Klitschko and Amir Khan at similar stages in their careers…).
Russian Vityaz – Protected?
It is more fair to ask if Alexander Povetkin isn’t more hype than substance, and therefore the most protected fighter in the heavyweight division. After out-boxing Larry Donald, Chris Byrd and Eddie Chambers in a row (no mean feat, there) by mid-2008, Povetkin ducked a showdown with the Klitschkos and went into limbo. The Russian earned his shot at the vacant WBA title against former champ Ruslan Chagaev almost by default.
Even so, Povetkin beat Chagaev handily, and the “White Tyson” is as solid a contender as they come in the heavyweight division these days. While Povetkin inspires plenty of impatience and frustration, it is unfair to call him a paper champion just yet.
Povetkin vs. Helenius Showdown?
This is the second dance card that featured both Helenius and Povetkin have jointly appeared on, and Helenius is the WBA’s Inter-Continental Champion. In October’s WBA rankings, the most recent available, the Finn was rated as the #3 heavyweight, after Hasim Rahman and David Haye. A win is a win is a win, so the Chisora fight might catapult him to #1 and the mandatory challenger’s status. More likely is that Helenius is now positioned for a title eliminator for the WBA strap.
Whatever happens, it seems that Robert Helenius and Alexander Povetkin are on a collision course for 2012. If that fight happens, it should answer any lingering doubts about both men.