Wilder eyes knockout return against old sparring partner
Former world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder hopes to get back to winning ways with a knockout when he takes on former sparring partner Robert Helenius on Saturday after a year-long absence from the ring.
Wilder, 36, faces Finland’s Helenius at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in his first fight since being knocked out by WBC champion Tyson Fury last year.
Many observers felt Wilder might have been wiser heading into retirement after his bruising 11th-round defeat to Fury in what was acclaimed as 2021’s fight of the year.
However, the hard-hitting knockout specialist from Alabama is determined to extend his career, starting with Saturday’s date against the 38-year-old veteran Helenius.
“Me and Tyson Fury had three memorable fights, especially for the fans, and I’m looking to keep delivering that moving forward,” said Wilder (42-2-1, with 41 knockouts).
A victory for Wilder could see the American advance to a final title eliminator against former champion Andy Ruiz sometime in 2023, with the winner of that fight possibly advancing to a title fight against Fury.
Little is certain, however, given the opaque back-room dealings of heavyweight boxing, so for now Wilder is simply concentrating on a quick win over Helenius this weekend.
“You can always expect nothing but the best from me,” Wilder said.
“I don’t get paid for overtime. I’ve been known for the knockouts and I’m going to end my career continuing to get those knockouts.”
Wilder recruited the 6ft 6in Helenius as a sparring partner during his preparations to face Fury last year and is looking forward to facing the Finn for the first time in a fully-fledged contest.
“It’s going to be fun,” Wilder said. “Robert is a great guy and we both have a warrior’s heart. We’re both willing to go out on our shields.
“This is our first time getting in the ring when it really counts. It’s going to be electrifying to finally step in the ring with him in that scenario.”
Wilder’s trainer Malik Scott has warned however that Helenius’s performances in sparring last year will bear no relation to how he performs on Saturday.
“He’s a good fighter when the lights are on,” Scott said. “When it’s time to throw a monkey wrench into the apple cart and upset people, this is when he comes alive.
“And this makes him more dangerous in this fight.”