Helenius Wins By Controversial Split Decision
Robert Helenius 17-0 (11) claimed the vacant European Heavyweight title in Helsinki tonight in controversial circumstances, the judges awarding the home fighter a 115-113, 113-115, 115-113 split decision over Britain's Dereck Chisora 15-2 (9).
The Briton appeared to win the fight by some distance, outworking The Nordic Nightmare for much of the fight. 27 year old Chisora set the tempo of the fight and pushed Helenius back throughout despite the physical advantages held by the Berlin based Finn of the same age.
Making his way to the ring decked in a Union Flag robe and face mask, London's Chisora claimed centre ring as early as the singing of the national anthems, trying to get in Helenius' face as he had at the weigh-in. The record boxing attendance in Finland, 12,738, almost all of them backing Helenius, were treated to a wonderful heavyweight battle, both men pushing themselves to the brink of exhaustion.
Chisora started aggressively, showing mobility and energy as he landed hooks to the body between exchanges of jabs between the men. Helenius had some success with combinations at range, but the travelling fighter probably edged the round on work rate and aggression.
The second saw Helenius using his reach advantage to box at range, landing jabs and combinations. Chisora fired some big right hands and was warned for use of the head. Helenius certainly showed a higher quality to take the round.
Helenius took the centre of the ring in the third, Chisora content to stand off. The pair exchanged jabs. Chisora took to showboating but the Finn persevered with the jab. Chisora did land hooks to body and head in a close round to score.
Both men were late off their stools for the fourth, an early sign that the pace of the fight for two big men was having an effect. Chisora went on the attack, landing right hands, hooks, bodyshots. Again the Londoner was warned for use of the head, but he took the round having landed combinations and a heavy right hand as the round drew to a close.
In the fifth, Helenius backed up the jab with the right hook. Chisora went onto the back foot, goading the Finn as he backed into the corner. The overly officious referee warned Chisora for hitting around the back of the head. Chisora pressed Helenius back, landing the uppercut and hooks. Helenius finished the round with a decent left but it was Chisora's round.
The sixth saw another warning for Chisora, this time for use of the elbow. The pair again exchanged jabs, Chisora working well on the inside. An uppercut and a big right hand were landed by the Brit, Helenius looking uncomfortable in the middle stage of the round. The Finn did improve, landing some heavy combinations as the pair traded toe to toe.
Chisora stared the seventh jabbing to the body, sensing the home fighter's tiredness. Helenius worked the jab, Chisora happy to dance on his toes and take a breather. Helenius picked up his work rate, Chisora matching him and answering the shots as they landed. Again the Londoner targeted the body, trying to bring down the arms and open the head up for a clubbing right. The round finished with the pair exchanging blows.
In the eighth the referee warned Chisora for use of the head again, the numerous warnings seemingly for nudging when in close rather than butting. Helenius boxed at range, landing jabs. Another warning came for Chisora, this time for elbow use.
The ninth saw Chisora pushing forwards on the attack, before heading to the ropes, choosing to show his opponent his tongue rather than his boxing ability. Helenius jabbed at range but Chisora landed the combinations and a big right before reverting to jabbing at Helenius' body. Another warning for use of the head by Chisora but no point deducted.
Helenius was in new territory by the tenth, all his previous fights having finished by this stage. The referee was now adjusting Chisora's shorts, disrupting the action. Helenius flicked out the jab and gulped in air. Chisora was busy, but warned again, this time for pulling down the head. Chisora landed hooks to the body and took the round.
In the eleventh Chisora landed clubbing right hooks to head and body. Another warning for head use. Many punches were now landing on gloves and arms as the fighter tired. Helenius went backwards, Chisora danced on his toes landing right hands and hooks.
The pair touched gloves before the twelfth, respect by now firmly held. Both men started the round with urgency, trying to claim the ascendancy. Chisora pushed forwards but was met by Helenius combinations. Both traded and landed big shots. Both were exhausted. Helenius found the energy for a final attack of jabs and combinations, Chisora landed to have the final word. The Chisora corner looked confident as the leapt into the ring.
When the decision came, it was greeted with cheer by the partisan locals. Helenius claimed in the post-fight interview he broke his right hand early and it 'hurt like hell'. For Chisora, it was a broken heart as he suffered his second loss his year but in the eyes of many, the moral victory was his and two of the judges at ringside simply had it wrong.