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Wilder vs Helenius: A crossroads fight for legacy

Image: Wilder vs Helenius: A crossroads fight for legacy

By Michael Malaszczyk: Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (42-2-1), from Alabama, will be facing off against Swedish contender Robert Helenius (31-3) this Saturday, October 15, at Barclays Center in New York City.

This is an exciting matchup between two big and powerful heavyweight boxers with knockout power in both hands.

This is also a crossroads fight for each man’s legacy. It’s rare that boxing fans get to witness this kind of matchup.

Deontay Wilder is coming off of his trilogy match with Tyson Fury. He lost by dramatic 11th round knockout in a war that saw both men getting dropped. Prior to that, he had lost his rematch with Tyson Fury by devastating 7th round TKO to lose his WBC heavyweight title. Prior to that second fight in 2020, Wilder had held the WBC belt since 2015 and amassed a record of ten title defenses, one of which was a draw in his first fight with Fury.

Wilder is fighting for his legacy against Helenius. He is owed some props for even taking this fight. Given how brutal that third fight with Fury was, few would fault Wilder for taking an easier, stay-busy, confidence-boosting fight to get himself back on the title scene. Given his past as champion, Wilder could likely have earned another shot at a belt by simply waiting and continuing to prove his knockout power against fighters outside the top 10.

But he’s not doing that. He’s facing Helenius.

Helenius is coming off of a career revival. After emerging as a red-hot prospect in the early 2010s, which saw him beating some impressive names, Helenius had a streak of bad luck and picked up some unfortunate losses against Johann Duhaupas, Dillian Whyte, and Gerald Washington.

But not long after Wilder’s downfall began, Helenius’s career revival began when he faced off against perennial top 10 heavyweight Adam Kownacki. Kownacki was not considered elite, but he was a brawler with decent power and heavy volume, and many expected him to beat Helenius en route to a title shot.

Helenius had other plans and brutally stopped Kownacki in round 4. They rematched on the same night as the Fury-Wilder trilogy, and Helenius destroyed Kownacki again, with Kownacki first being disqualified for repeated low blows before the result was changed to a TKO.

Both men are fighting for their legacies here. Both men are looking for a big win to force themselves onto the title scene. This is Wilder’s chance to prove that his time as champ was no fluke, and this is Helenius’s chance to overcome some disappointing years that saw him slip away from the rankings.

Boxing fans don’t usually get to see this sort of thing. As mentioned earlier, the usual course for a man in Wilder’s position is to take some confidence-boosting, low-risk fights and hope for a title shot based on his name. For a man in Helenius’s position, the usual course is similar; take easier fights that keep you in the top 10 until you can get into a mandatory position.

Neither man wanted that. Both are looking for a big statement this Saturday. Given the drama of that and all of the attributes these two fighters possess, boxing fans could be in for a real treat.

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