Robert Helenius showed that his shock 2020 win over highly-rated Adam Kownacki was no fluke as he stopped the Brooklyn-based Pole inside six one-sided rounds in their Las Vegas rematch on Saturday night.
The Finn had been a massive underdog when he surprisingly handed Kownacki a first professional defeat in March last year, and he repeated the dose here on the Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3 undercard with a complete demolition of the one-time ‘next big thing’ in the heavyweight division.
Helenius sets the tone early
The first round was a totally one-sided affair as Helenius carried on from the first bout with a dominant start. Twice he stiffened Kownacki’s legs with big right hands and the round ended with a sustained assault from the Finn as Kownacki lay on the ropes with a stoppage a very real possibility.
Kownacki did survive to the bell but the second provided more uncomfortable moments for him as he looked slow and ponderous as he pushed forward to be met by powerful counters. He already had significant swelling to his left eye, but maybe that provided the urgency he needed as he improved to take the round on our card. He was again open to counters, but the workrate and punch output were much better. His corner though wanted better head movement as they instructed him between rounds.
The third was back to Helenius holding sway, landing a couple of lovely uppercuts as Kownacki really struggled with that left eye rapidly closing. He was blinking furiously as Helenius again landed apparently at will. A combination had Adam in big trouble and in the carnage he unleashed a low blow which saw Helenius sink to the canvas. He was given time to recover while Kownacki got a warning to keep his shots up.
Round four was another strong one for Helenius, as he picked off the lumbering Kownacki again with stiff jabs, right counters and some lovely uppercuts on the inside. Kownacki, after an attempt to pick up the pace early in the round, slowed as it went on and surely knew now that he would be not going the distance with that significant damage to that left eye. It was by now a massive problem.
Writing on the wall for Kownacki
Kownacki made a valiant attempt to turn it into a brawl in the fifth, but the only blow he really landed was a low one to result in the deduction of a point. Instead of a brawl it was turning into a systematic beating with Helenius landing at will every time he threw shots from the right side. Kownacki was clearly unable to see those punches coming. Referee Celestino Ruiz shouted “show me something Adam” during the action and though he called the doctor between rounds to inspect the eye, the decision was to let the Brooklyn man continue.
The sixth was another study in punishment as Kownacki, by now slowed and struggling to see, was easy meat for the calm and clinical Helenius. The end when it came was not unexpected, but the manner of the stoppage was. Ruiz did finally put Kownacki out of his misery when Adam unleashed another low blow and finally the beatdown was over 2:38 into the session.
Helenius (now 31-3) is back in the mix at the top end of the heavyweight division at the age of 37, while those dreams of the big time for Kownacki (20-2) lie in tatters right now.