Deontay Wilder wasn’t sure if he’d ever return to the ring after losing to Tyson Fury for the second consecutive time via stoppage in October 2021. Admittedly, Wilder said he was 85 percent out the door.
But a May ceremony in his honor changed Wilder’s tune. Now, the former WBC heavyweight champion is back and returns on Saturday to take on fellow contender Robert Helenius from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
When Deontay Wilder and Robert Helenius eventually retire, the boxing world will almost certainly believe that Wilder had a much more notable career. Wilder was a longtime heavyweight titlist who probably will at least make the ballot for the Hall of Fame. Helenius will probably be always seen as a journeyman. But Helenius has proven at least one thing that Wilder still hasn’t: he knows how to successfully bounce back from a career low point. It’s unclear if Wilder can, but we’ll begin to find out on Saturday night. Here’s everything you need to know about Deontay Wilder vs. Robert Helenius, including the odds, their records and a prediction on who will win.
It seems hard to believe, but Wilder hasn’t scored a victory in nearly three years. And considering Wilder was undefeated through the first 43 fights of his career, that seems almost shocking. But no, Wilder is coming off back-to-back knockout losses to Tyson Fury, where Wilder lost his heavyweight title—and nearly his career.
“I give it all 110% percent,” said Wilder. “I tell people that I only have three years left that I want to dedicate to this business. I want to get back to the big fights and to giving the fans what they want to see, and that’s me risking my life for others’ entertainment . . . I’m doing it for the people this time. It’s not about just my family anymore. It’s about everyone who I’ve motivated, inspired and encouraged all over the world.”
Helenius stamped himself as one of the world’s best heavyweights with consecutive stoppage wins over the previously unbeaten Adam Kownacki, including a sixth-round TKO win over Kownacki in Helenius’ last outing on the Fury-Wilder 3 undercard. The 38-year-old “Nordic Nightmare” has won six of his last seven bouts.
Deontay Wilder vs. Robert Helenius, Heavyweight
Physically, we all know what the deal with Wilder is. He’s extremely lanky, possesses ungodly power, and is hardly a technical marvel. That’s been the book on him since he began to make noise about a decade ago and that hasn’t changed. He’s about to turn 37, so there’s always the potential that his physical skills could begin to decline, but there haven’t been signs of that. Given Wilder began late in his boxing career, he doesn’t have quite the mileage on his body either. The likelihood of Wilder declining physically is unlikely.
However, just because Wilder should be physically fine, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be his old self. We all know how important the mental side of things is in sports, especially combat sports. Wilder is coming off the first two losses of his career at the hands of Fury. It isn’t just that he lost, but he also endured a hellacious beating in their third contest. Wilder protested the stoppage in the second fight of their trilogy. He didn’t in the final fight. Taking the year off after that was wise to better ensure there are no long-term consequences from that fight. That’s a big reason why I have no expectations of a physical decline. But mentally? That’s a completely different story.
Main Card (PPV, 9:00 pm ET)
Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KO) vs Robert Helenius (31-3, 20 KO), heavyweights, 12 rounds, WBC eliminator
Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KO) vs Anthony Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KO), super middleweights, 12 rounds, WBC eliminator
Frank Sanchez (20-0, 13 KO) vs Carlos Negron (25-3, 20 KO), heavyweights, 10 rounds
Gary Antonio Russell (19-0, 12 KO) vs Emmanuel Rodriguez (20-2, 13 KO), bantamweights, 12 rounds, WBA and IBF eliminator
Helenius is in many ways the perfect opponent to test Wilder out. Helenius isn’t quite as savvy as Fury. He’s not as big either, nor is he on Fury’s level in terms of pure athleticism. He probably isn’t as heavy handed either. All that said, it Isn’t like Helenius is a huge step down by any means in any of those categories. He’s just a bit shorter than Fury. His reach is about six-inches shorter, but it’s still longer than the vast majority of other heavyweights. And while no one will accuse Helenius of being an elite athlete, he’s hardly a slug. The way he handled Adam Kownacki showed he’s capable of putting together a god gameplan too. Throw in the fact that Wilder was clearly struggling with Fury’s height and Helenius has a path to victory.
The telecast will feature undefeated Cuban sensation Frank Sanchez battling Puerto Rican Olympian Carlos Negron in a 10-round heavyweight duel, while top bantamweight contenders Gary Antonio Russell and Emmanuel Rodriguez meet in a 12-round rematch opening the pay-per-view