Breaking down Robert Helenius’ major upset of Adam Kownacki


In a fight that was presumed to be an afterthought for Adam Kownacki, Robert Helenius earned a TKO victory in Saturday night’s heavyweight title eliminator at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and likely set himself up for at least a few significant fights to come.

To put this fight into perspective, sportsbook William Hill had Kownacki as a -2500 favorite as betting closed, as compared to +900 odds for Helenius. This was not supposed to happen.

So how did we get another major upset in the heavyweight division? Let’s break down the biggest questions of the night.

What happened to Kownacki? Did he overlook Helenius?

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Case in point: In August, he took a shopworn Chris Arreola and led him into battle with Kownacki, and they gave the popular Polish fighter hell over 12 entertaining rounds. While they didn’t come out with the victory, there’s no doubting Goossen made his mark.

And let’s not forget that Joshua is still looked upon as a vulnerable guy because of his knockout loss to Ruiz in June. Joshua then played it really safe against Ruiz in the rematch. The key for Goossen will be to get Pulev to buy in to his game plan, which will most likely feature aggression and then looking for openings.

The presence of Goossen alone makes this matchup more interesting, at the very least.

What did promising up-and-comers Ajagba and Sanchez show you?

Efe Ajagba, left, showed off power in both of his hands against Razvan Cojanu, but he still has room to improve his movement in the ring. Michael Owens/Getty Images

Both heavyweight hopefuls on the Kownacki-Helenius undercard came out victorious and remained undefeated, but they also showed that they aren’t quite ready for prime time.

Efe Ajagba wore down a game Razvan Cojanu over nine rounds, wearing him down with his heavy, two-fisted attack. There’s no denying Ajagba’s physical strength and punching prowess, but you wonder if he’s a bit too stiff and methodical.

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Frank Sanchez won a clear 10-round decision over veteran Joey Dawejko in a rather dreary affair that was devoid of action for the most part. Trained by Eddy Reynoso, whose most famous client is Canelo Alvarez, Sanchez came into the pro game with a deep amateur pedigree forged in Cuba. While he has a set of fast hands, Sanchez seemed very reluctant versus the smaller Dawejko to let them go or engage all that much. It left you wondering how Sanchez would deal with real pressure from the bigger heavyweights, moving forward.

Time is, thankfully, on the side of Ajagba and Sanchez, as they are 25 and 27, respectively.


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