Can ''Del Boy'' shock the ''Nordic Nightmare''?
Britain's Derek ''Del Boy'' Chisora takes on the undefeated Finnish giant Roberts Helenius for the vacant European heavyweight title at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday night. The title became vacant when the previous champion Alexander Dimitrenko was forced to undergo surgery on his elbow. Dimitrenko will now become the mandatory challenger for the winner of Saturday's bout. Chisora recently got back in the win column with a six round decsion over Lithuanian journeyman Remigijus Ziausys, and will need to be at his best against Helenius, who is rated as the third best heavyweight in the world behind Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko by top boxing websites Fightnews and Boxrec, and is ranked the no.1 contender by the WBO.
How things can change in the course of a year! 12 months ago an unbeaten Derek Chisora was training for a world title fight against Wladimir Klitschko, despite the fact that he had only fourteen bouts on his record. Chisora had looked ever more impressive in victories over Danny Williams and Sam Sexton (twice) and when Klitschko pulled out of their fight just days before it was due to take place citing a torn abdominal muscle, there were whispers in the fight fraternity that the reality was Klitschko was suddenly getting apprehensive about facing the burly young Brit.
Weeks later and the Klitschko Chisora fight was back on, only for it to be scrapped a second time when the Ukrainian chose a unification fight against Britain's then WBA heavyweight champ David Haye.
A disappointed Chisora defended his British and Commonwealth titles against the young giant of British boxing, 6'9" Tyson Fury. In terms of pure boxing ability, Chisora should have had the beating of Fury, but possibly still suffering from the disappointment of his world title fight falling though twice, he bizarrely he came into the fight a borderline obese 261 lbs - way too fleshy for his 6'1'' frame. Chisora found himself outworked and out-boxed for most of the fight, and lost widely on points. The defeat cost him his British and Commonwealth belts, his world ranking, his unbeaten record plus a whole lot of credibility.
Now, one year on from being on the verge of fighting Wladimir Klitschko for the world heavyweight title, 27-year-old Chisora (15-1, 9 KOs) finds himself a heavy underdog going into a European heavyweight title fight against a fighter who was virtually unheard of this time last year.
27-year-old Robert Helenius (16-0, 11 KOs) was born in Stockholm of Finnish parents. When he was a child, his family moved back to Finland and Helenius represented his country extensively as an amateur, winning a silver medal in the 2006 European Amateur Championships.
Helenius turned professional in 2008, and despite scoring a first round knockout on his debut, would win his next four bouts on points. Since then, Helenius has been something of a destroyer, winning 10 of his last 11 fights inside the distance. Included in this KO streak have been impressive stoppages over former British heavyweight champion Scott Gammer (KO 6), former European title contender Taras Bydenko (RTD 3), ex-WBO heavyweight champion Lamon Brewster (TKO 8) and French heavyweight prospect Gregory Tony (TKO 6).
In November 2010, Helenius raised a few eyebrows when he demolished Swedish heavyweight Attila Levin in two rounds. The hulking Levin had once been regarded as a potential world champion and had not been beaten in five years, but Helenius destroy him with textbook straight rights that were reminiscent of the great Cuban Teofilo Stevenson.
Helenius proved he was for real when he knocked out former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel Peter in the ninth round in April of this year. Peter had only been beaten by the Klitschko brothers and Americans speedster Eddie Chambers in his ten year – 38 bout career, and was still ranked in the world's top five.
The bulky Nigerian kept the fight competitive up until the sudden ending in round nine when he was floored twice, the second time for keeps.
Helenius was at it again four months later, knocking out former WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich in the ninth round. The American-based Belarusian had only previously been beaten by top flight heavyweights like Nikolay Valuev and Shannon Briggs, and was competitive against Helenius up until the eighth round when he was knocked down, with the Finn concluding matters in the following stanza.
Helenius, who is fluent in English as well as Finnish, Swedish and German, is now based permanently in Berlin and promoted by Sauerland Event. His trainer is the legendary Ulli Wegner who has coached many top German-based fighters including former IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham.
Helenius possesses a similar kind of physique to that of Tyson Fury, i.e. he has a soft appearance that looks like he has never seen the inside of a gymnasium. His appearance is deceptive - his punching power is more destructive than any heavyweight in the business right now, including Vitali Klitschko.
Derek Chisora will need all of his considerable ring craft and savvy to last the distance against Helenius. Chisora hits hard, but not as hard as Sam Peter or Lamon Brewster, two world-class punchers who didn't trouble Helenius. Although the Finn's right-hand looks to be his money punch, it was a left hook that put down Peter first in the ninth round. His stoppages of Peter and Liakovich prove that Helenius possesses late punching power, and I think this will be the key factor in Saturday's fight.
I see Chisora starting the bout strongly and having some success with heavy shots to the body and looping hooks to the head. However Helenius will look to back Chisora up early in the fight, stamping his authority on the proceedings with a solid left jab backed up by his powerful right cross. Helenius keeps on coming, and will be still looking for the knockout late into the fight. Chisora tired badly down the stretch against Fury, and was even gasping for breath prior to knocking out Sam Sexton in the ninth round of their 2010 rematch. Helenius's late power coupled with Chisora's stamina issues will be decisive and result in the Finn winning this fight on a 10th round TKO.
Helenius by TKO in ten.
Big Fight Odds: Robert Helenius 1/8, Derek Chisora 9/2 bet365