Home Columns Helenius stuns Kownacki in world title eliminator in Brooklyn – Results

Helenius stuns Kownacki in world title eliminator in Brooklyn – Results

Kownacki suffers first professional defeat in Brooklyn

Robert Helenius produced a huge upset to stop Adam Kownacki in Brooklyn Credit: BT Sport Boxing
Robert Helenius produced a huge upset to stop Adam Kownacki in Brooklyn Credit: BT Sport Boxing

Veteran Robert Helenius shocked the boxing world by dropping and eventually stopping popular heavyweight Adam Kownacki in the fourth round to inflict a first defeat on the Pole in their eliminator main event on Fox in Brooklyn.

Many thought it would be business as usual for Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs), who looked to take the fight to the taller Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs) in an attempt to overwhelm him as the Polish-born Brooklyn native, had so often done in the past.

Helenius was instead able to pick the shorter man off with some good shots and had him in big trouble early. 

The 36-year-old would walk Kownacki into a shot as he was retreating to begin the fourth round which put him down but it was ruled a slip. However, the Swede knew he had hurt his man and would connect again after the action resumed to put Kownacki down for certain. 

The favourite got back up but was stumbling badly at this point and ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ would press forward with more punches until the referee stepped in to stop the fight at 1:08 of the fourth round. 

The result was absolutely unexpected since Helenius had not been a top heavyweight contender in several years, having suffered a bad knockout loss at the hands of Gerald Washington and had been comprehensively outpointed by Dillian Whyte.

Helenius celebrates after winning the WBA world heavyweight title eliminator Credit: BT Sport Boxing
Helenius celebrates after winning the WBA world heavyweight title eliminator Credit: BT Sport Boxing

Somehow the seasoned heavyweight had received a dubious #7 ranking by the WBA and a spot in this sanctioned title eliminator for an improbable shot at unified world titlist Anthony Joshua. 

In contrast, the upset win constitutes a massive setback for ‘Babyface’, the beloved Brooklyn brawler whose fan-friendly, all-action style made him a massive draw at Barclays Center.

The crowd of over 8,000 fans, mostly backing Kownacki were silenced as their heroes’ goal to become the first Polish heavyweight champion took a huge hit.

Even in defeat, Kownacki still managed to outwork his opponent and was leading through the first three rounds per CompuBox statistics that had him connecting with 84 of 224 (38%) to Helenius, who landed just 49 of 228 shots (22%).


Kownacki did not complain after the loss and gave Helenius credit. 

“It wasn’t my night,” said Kownacki post-fight.

“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.”

Ajagba destroys Cojanu in Fox co-feature

Nigerian top prospect Efe Ajagba was just too strong for former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu as he pummelled him into submission, earning a ninth round stoppage to remain unbeaten. 

Ajagba (13-0, 11 KOs) battered Cojanu (17-7, 9 KOs) throughout every round and showed great patience whilst stalking and methodically picking his opponent apart.

Ajagba scored knockdowns in rounds eight and nine before referee Ron Lipton stepped in to stop the onslaught at 2:45 of the latter round after Cojanu took a knee.


Ajagba didn’t have any real problems with Cojanu, who was a huge underdog prior to the stoppage. In fact, the fight could have ended in the eighth round after the Romanian took a hard right hand and combination that forced him to take a knee.

Cojanu, who had previously fought Brits, Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman gamely beat the count, but Ajagba hurt him with a left hook that left him wobbling with only 20 seconds left in the round. 

The Texas transplant is just 25-years-old and already showing different dimensions of his game in every outing such as this one, where he did not rely solely on his power as in earlier pro fights. 

The performance was a far cry from Ajagba’s last bout, a thrilling war with Iago Kiladze ending in a fifth round TKO victory. However, it was also the first time that Ajagba was knocked down as a pro or amateur.

The jury is still out on how far Ajagba can ascend in the stacked heavyweight division but he is clearly one of the top rising names in the entire division. He’s trained by the highly-respected Ronnie Shields and I suspect that we shall soon have the answer to that pressing question.

Sanchez routs Dawwjko

Heavyweight sensation and Cuban amateur standout Frank Sanchez had no problem defeating Joey Dawejko in the night’s opener, easily outpointing his opponent over ten dominant rounds. 

Sanchez (15-0, 11 KOs) won comfortably on all three of the judges’ scorecards with marks of 100-90, 100-90 and 98-92 to notch his 15th pro victory.

‘The Cuban Flash’ worked behind a probing jab and would later mix it up with solid combination and hard right hands to keep Dawejko at bay.


Dawejko (29-8-4, 11 KOs) simply could not get on the inside to land his own heavy artillery against the longer 6-foot-4, 250-pound Sanchez and was reduced to covering up and trying to block the incoming shots.

By the fifth round, Dawejko’s face was noticeably swollen and he could only muster one punch at a time in response to Sanchez’s blistering attacks. 

The 27-year-old reflected favorably on his performance. 

“I didn’t want to fight Dawejko’s fight, and he realized that and it frustrated him,” Sanchez said.

“He might have thought he’s faced guys like me, but there’s no other heavyweight like me.”

It was undoubtedly a very frustrating evening for the Philadelphia fighter and former sparring partner for unified world heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua.

‘Tank’ has now lost four of his last five fights and looked especially bad in this one. 

This was a good crossroads fight for both men with the WBC Continental Americas heavyweight championship on the line. Dawejko was a decent step up in competition being a veteran of over 30 fights with title fight experience. 

It was the first fight for Sanchez under new trainer Eddy Reynoso, who also trains Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez. It will be interesting to see who this fast and athletic heavyweight will be pitted against next. 

Undercard Results

Brooklyn’s Zachary Ochoa (21-1, 7 KOs) won a tough unanimous decision over a very determined Angel Sarinana (10-10-3, 4 KOs) in their action-packed eight round junior welterweight bout. 

Carlos Negron (21-3, 16 KOs) defeated Robert Alfonso (19-1-1, 9 KOs) by first round knockout in their heavyweight clash. 

Boston’s Francis Hogan won his pro debut, stopping Virginia’s Brent Oren in round four.