Dan Rafael: Lamon Brewster

Helenius needs good performance

March, 19, 2013
Robert HeleniusBoris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRobert Helenius returns to the ring on Saturday against journeyman Michael Sprott.

After heavyweight hopeful Robert Helenius polished off former titlist Sergei Liakhovich in a ninth-round knockout win in August 2011, he was red-hot and being discussed as a possible future challenger for either of the heavyweight champion brothers, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.

Even Wladimir Klitschko himself brought Helenius up as a possible challenger to his throne.

Liakhovich was the third former world titleholder whom Helenius had knocked out in less than two years, adding him to a list that also included Samuel Peter (in devastating fashion) and the long-faded Lamon Brewster.

But since the Liakhovich fight, it’s been a struggle for Helenius (18-0, 11 KOs), who hopes to get back on track with a good performance against British journeyman Michael Sprott (37-19, 17 KOs) on Saturday (Epix and EpixH.com, 4 p.m. ET) at the GETEC-Arena in Magdeburg, Germany. Helenius-Sprott is the co-featured bout on the card headlined by the rematch between super middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham (36-3, 28 KOs) and Robert Stieglitz (43-3, 24 KOs).

After beating Liakhovich, Finland’s Helenius -- known as the “Nordic Nightmare” -- won the vacant European title by claiming a split decision against Dereck Chisora. But it was a terrible hometown decision in a fight many thought Chisora had won rather easily.

Then came a 13-month layoff for the 6-foot-6 Helenius, who needed surgery to repair a nagging right shoulder injury. When he returned in November, Helenius fought with no passion in a lethargic and an uninspiring 10-round decision win against 5-11 journeyman Sherman Williams, who actually hurt Helenius with an overhand right in the sixth round.

The 38-year-old Sprott is vastly experienced against numerous name opponents in his 17-year pro career, including losses to former world titleholders Corrie Sanders, Ruslan Chagaev and Brewster. Sprott’s biggest win came in 2007, when he knocked countryman Audley Harrison out cold in the third round (but then was stopped in the 12th round of their 2010 rematch).

More recently, Sprott ended a four-fight losing streak in December with an upset decision win in a rematch with unbeaten prospect Edmund Gerber, who had stopped Sprott in the fourth-round in his previous fight in September.

“I was present in Nuremberg (Germany) when he beat Gerber,” Helenius said. “Sprott is technically gifted, so I will have to make use of my height and reach advantage. My jab could make the difference.”

Robert Helenius resumes training

August, 21, 2012
Robert HeleniusBoris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty ImagesRobert Helenius returns to the ring on Saturday against journeyman Michael Sprott.

Heavyweight contender Robert Helenius of Finland recently returned to the gym to train following surgery on his injured right shoulder earlier in the year.

“He returned back to the gym and has started using his arm again,” Sauerland Event promoter Chris Meyer said.

As for how the shoulder is holding up and if there is a specific fight in the works, Meyer said, “Nothing to report so far. He just started in the gym again.”

Although no fight is set for Helenius – who vacated the European title -- Sauerland Event expects him back in the ring before the end of the year. The original target return was September, but that will be pushed into later in the year.

The 28-year-old Helenius (17-0, 11 KOs) was beginning to get a lot of attention after a series of impressive knockouts against former world titleholders Lamon Brewster, Sergei Liakhovich and Samuel Peter. Even the heavyweight champion brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko had mentioned him as a possible future opponent.

However, Helenius’ momentum was severely blunted by a gift hometown split decision in Helsinki against Dereck Chisora when they met for the vacant European title in December. In January, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Helenius disclosed a chronic shoulder problem and had surgery. It forced him out of a planned March 31 European title defense and into the layoff.