November 7, 2012
'Nordic Nightmare' Robert Helenius a big fan of Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne
By MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency
EDMONTON - Robert Helenius is a big man with a big plan, but the 6-foot-7, 250-pound Finnish slugger keeps things in perspective.
“Even if I one day become the first world heavyweight champion from Finland, it could never equal the achievements of Jari Kurri or Teemu Selanne,” Helenius said over coffee during a June visit to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.
“Those guys are national heroes. Like every Finnish kid, I dreamed of being a great hockey player like Kurri ... but I just kept growing so I became a boxer.”
That was definitely the right choice.
Ranked No. 9 on the planet going into Saturday’s title elimination bout with Sherman (Tank) Williams at the Helsinki Ice Hall, the 28-year-old Helenius — dubbed ‘The Nordic Nightmare — is 17-0 with 11 knockouts since turning pro four years ago.
His hit list includes KOs of three guys who each owned one of the fragmented world titles — Lamon Brewster, Samuel Peter and Siarhei Liakhovich — but he’ll be in tough against Williams, who’s much better than his 35-11 record.
“I’m going to Finland to give Helenius more than he can handle,” Williams said last week from his training camp in Vero Beach, Fla.
“I’m bringing my ‘conch’ (overhand right) punch to spoil things for him.”
“Helenius brings size into the ring, but guys that size rarely stand up straight. I’m sure I can reach him. I’ve been in the ring with big guys before, like Jameel McCline, and I’ve sparred with Wladimir and Vitali (Klitschko) and reached them.Helenius is in for a big surprise.”
Another big guy Williams fought was recently retired Edmonton KO artist Tye Fields, who beat the Bahamian in a 12-round decision to claim the vacant USBA heavyweight crown in 2003.
Red Deer’s Arash Usmanee (20-0 10 KOs) will headline against Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (17-0 11 KOs) in a battle of undefeated super featherweights at Miami’s Magic City Casino on Jan. 4.
The bout will be televised live on ESPN.
Usmanee, who fights out of Montreal, is ranked No. 8 in the world by the WBA while Barthelemy is rated No. 5 by the IBF.
Barthelemy, 26, turned pro in 2009 and notched a 14-second knockout in his punch-for-pay debut. He has six first-round KOs but has gone to the scorecards in four of his past five outings as the quality of his opposition ramped up.
The 30-year-old Usmanee won a lopsided decision over previously-unbeaten Chris Howard to claim the WBC’s Continental Americas lightweight title last March. The Canadian’s last outing was a third-round KO of Peru’s Alan Parades in June.
Pro boxing returned to Kitchener, Ont., for the first time in 21 years last weekend with a card headlined by comebacking former Canadian heavyweight title challenger Art Binkowski (16-2-3) in a six-rounder against journeyman Jonte Willis (8-4) of Tacoma.
The 37-year-old Binkowski, who portrayed Corn Griffin in the 2005 movie Cinderella Man, had been out of the ring for five years — and it showed. After a decent start, he tired quickly and lost by scores of 60-54, 59-55 and 58-56.
UP AND ADAM
Adam Trupish’s training continues to go well under the watchful eye of Eddie Mustafa Muhammad at the Hit Factory in Las Vegas.
In anticipation of a possible return to action next month, Edmonton’s unbeaten (11-0, 8 KOs) NABA junior middleweight champion has been sparring with two-time U.S. amateur middleweight champ Luis Arias.
In a 10-minute video of a recent three-round session posted on GM Ross’s excellent Canadian Boxiana website (canadianboxiana.com), Trupish showcases a stiffer jab and the patient, efficient ring presence that Muhammad vowed to instill in Trupish when he signed on to train the two-time Canadian Olympian.
Trupish’s management team is currently mulling offers for his next bout, and one opponent already shortlisted is former WBO super welterweight champ Sergiy Dzinziruk of Ukraine.
Dzinziruk defended the crown six times before being stripped for inactivity last fall, but his impressive record — 37-1-1, 23 KOs — combined with a southpaw stance, would make him an intriguing test for Trupish, who hasn’t fought since knocking out Detroit veteran Darryl Cunningham (25-2) in March.
Former WBC light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 KOs) is returning to the ring Dec. 14 in Montreal.
Pascal, who was born in Haiti and lives in Laval, Que., will take on Polish contender Aleksy Kuziemski (23-4, 7 KOs).
It’s been 17 months since Pascal’s last bout — a 12-round loss to multiple world champion Bernard Hopkins — and he needs an impressive win to secure either a bout with IBF champion Tavoris Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) in February or a rematch against WBC champion Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs) in March.