Deontay Wilder, a former heavyweight champion, celebrated his eagerly anticipated comeback to the ring on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City, by stopping Robert Helenius with a devastating knockout blow in the first round.
With that punch, Wilder made it clear that he intended to dominate the division. In case his performance hadn’t made it plain, Wilder reiterated the point following the contest.
For the first time since he was defeated by Tyson Fury in October of last year, Wilder was making his comeback to ring action.
Fury became the first opponent to ever recover from a Wilder knockdown in a split draw as the English boxer overcame a knockdown in the 12th round in their first match of 2018. The following two fights, including their fight from a year ago, which had five knockdowns between them and was hailed by many as the fight of the year, were won by Fury through knockout.
Wearing headgear and sensing Wilder’s might is one thing. It’s quite another to try to withstand that force during a real fight.
Helenius attempted to use a combination on Wilder in the waning moments of the first round.
Three seconds before the bell rang, the former champion from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, chose his position and unleashed the right hand that instantly knocked Helenius to the ground and terminated the contest.
Helenius never even reached his corner after leaving it.
The final phase of Wilder’s career was officially launched by the triumph.
Prior to the fight, Wilder declared his intention to continue competing until 2025, the year in which he will turn 40. With his own deadline approaching, Wilder stated that he intended to pursue matches with elite boxers who would have to take his power into consideration.
He named Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed champion, and Andy Ruiz, a previous champion, as possible rivals.
Wilder highlighted Anthony Joshua during the buildup to the fight—another former champion who had lost his titles to Usyk—but he didn’t bring up Joshua after Helenius was knocked out.
The next opponent Wilder meets will attempt to join Fury and Bermane Stiverne as the only ones who can withstand his power.
On Saturday, as Helenius lay flat on the ground, another victim of one of the most devastating blows in boxing history, Wilder put his gloves on his hips, looked out into the audience, and then threw the fatal punch.
Wilder maintained an expressionless expression. It was as though he was inquiring of the Brooklyn crowd whether they had anticipated anything less.