Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

US boxer Deontay Wilder (left) knocked out Swedish-Finnish boxer Robert Helenius in round 1 of the 12-round WBC World Heavyweight Title Eliminator fight held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on October 15, 2022. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

Former world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder returned with a spectacular victory after a one-year hiatus, knocking out Finland’s Robert Helenius in the first round on Saturday.

Wilder stopped Helenius with a powerful right punch to the face two minutes and 57 seconds later, raising the American’s record 43-2 with a draw and 42 knockouts.

“It was a great night,” Wilder said.

Wilder responded to a string-based combination with a short but firm right to Helenius’ nose, who fell on his back to the canvas as Wilder drove away, finishing his night off after three punches.

“I had to take the time. I was getting it to reach him,” Wilder said. “I wanted to be mobile, agile and aggressive. I set a trap for him, let him lie down, and when he did, I attacked.”

Doctors rushed to the 38-year-old prone Finnish fighter, who was slowly rising to his knees. Helenius, a former Wilder training partner whose record dropped to 31-4, finally left the ring under his own power.

A week into his 37th birthday, Wilder made his first appearance in the ring since his 11th round knockout defeat by England’s Tyson Fury last October. Wilder lost the World Boxing Council crown and undefeated status to Fury in 2020.

“We wanted to make it fun again,” Wilder said. “You can do this for so long that it can be a job, it’s just something you do. We made it fun. It’s a big time saver.

Wilder’s victory kicks off a fight against compatriot Andy Ruiz, presumably a former world champion, in 2023, and that winner is poised for a chance at a WBC title.

However, Wilder didn’t rule out fighting Ukraine’s undefeated Oleksandr Usyk, who holds all the other major heavyweight titles.

“Who’s next? Whatever it is, I’m in,” said Wilder. Andy Ruiz, Usyk or whatever. I’m back. The excitement is back in the heavyweight division.”

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