Deontay Wilder knocked out Robert Helenius in the first round on Saturday night, making a strong return to the win column after back-to-back losses to Tyson Fury.
The former heavyweight champion moved cautiously for most of the round before unleashing a right hand that was long considered the best in the business. He knew it was over by posing on the ropes before the fight was even stopped.
“When you fight Deontay Wilder, you have to have an A-plus-plus game,” Wilder said.
Wilder 43-2-1 (42 KOs) won convincingly in his first fight after being stopped twice by Fury, the latest in the 11th round last October after Fury rallied from two knockdowns.
But Helenius (31-4) didn’t get up from a straight right hand that ended the match with three seconds left in the first round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Fury was able to handle Wilder’s power, and he was the only one standing up at this point after four total knockdowns in their three fights. But Gelenia was not in that class.
He used his roughly 40-pound advantage to push Wilder back for most of the round and backed him into the corner when Wilder unleashed a right that ended the Finnish fighter’s hopes of getting any closer to a title shot.
“I set him up,” Wilder said. “I let him reach and when he reached I attacked. It was a great fight.”
Wilder could soon be on his way to another heavyweight title after once again showing why his power makes him one of the sport’s can’t-miss attractions.
He has held a share of the heavyweight title for five years and could be looking for a chance against Alexander Usyk, who holds three belts in addition to the one Fury took from Wilder. Other names to be mentioned include former champions Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr.
“I hear rumors about Usyk, but he’s not here, is he?” – said Wilder. When guys see those knockouts, they turn their backs on me.”
Wilder weighed in at just 214.5 pounds, shedding most of the weight he put on in his last two fights against Fury and returning to a weight he’s comfortable with but light for most heavyweights.
It didn’t matter in his fist. He improved to 5-0 in Brooklyn with five knockouts, the last two coming in the first round.
Wilder turns 37 next week and has said he only wants to fight for three more years, but is willing to do whatever it takes to get back to the top of the division in that time.
“Deontay is back and the excitement in the heavyweight division is back,” he said.
Wilder finally got down to business after Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) knocked out Anthony Dirrell (34-3-2) in the ninth round of their super middleweight matchup between the former champions. Plant lost his belt in the previous fight when he was stopped by undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez.
The bout featured plenty of holds and grappling, as well as occasional long stretches with few punches, prompting boos in Brooklyn. Suddenly, Plant followed with a left to the body with a left hook to the head, causing Dirrell to drop to the canvas and leave him there for several minutes while Plant stood over him and mimicked a shovel motion as if digging a veteran’s grave.