Late in Round 3, Robert Helenius landed a right hand and left jab that buckled Adam Kownacki’s knees. The salvo was just the latest in a string of combinations Helenius had used to open a lead on the scorecards and raise lumps on his opponent’s face.
Kownacki, Polish-born and Brooklyn-raised, responded with his hardest punches of the fight — a right and a left, both below the belt.
The shots didn’t count, naturally. They bought Kownacki a few minutes to regroup, and a stern warning from the referee, but they didn’t alter the rhythm of the fight. Kownacki, who was undefeated before Helenius knocked him out in their first meeting, in March of 2020, is a volume puncher who dialed back his output hoping to tighten his defense.
It didn’t work against Helenius, a 6-foot-7 contender from Finland. Helenius landed jabs, right hands and body punches, and forced referee Celestino Ruiz to consider stopping the fight in Round 5.
Midway through the sixth, another low blow provided the pretense. Ruiz stopped the fight. Helenius celebrated, and Kownacki looked relieved.
Helenius, who served as Deontay Wilder’s main sparring partner, is now 31-3 with 19 knockouts.