The former long-time heavyweight champion scores another frightening first round KO in front of a raucous crowd at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in the main event of the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View.
Deontay Wilder got a chance to look into a bronzed version of himself back in May. It was as if the metal figurine would step off its pedestal on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk during the unveiling of Wilder’s statue from the appreciative people of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and scream at the former WBC heavyweight world champion “You have more to offer.”
A more relaxed, more confident “Bronze Bomber” appeared Saturday night on a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View from Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York.
But the rejuvenated Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) looked a lot like the vintage version, when he smashed top rated Robert Helenius, stopping him at 2:57 of the first round with a single right hand in their WBC world heavyweight title eliminator.
It didn’t last long.
Helenius shoved Wilder. A few seconds later, Wilder landed his potent right on Helenius’ face, sending the “Nordic Nightmare” down on his back. Referee Michael Griffin barely bothered to count.
Helenius (31-4, 20 KOs) did not help himself. He leaned in as Wilder hit him.
“It's just amazing to be back in Brooklyn,” Wilder said. “It's like a second home to me. It feels so good to be back. When I got off the plane, I felt the great energy and the love, and that's all I needed.
“It's been a good camp for me. We worked to make this fun for me. We work at this so much that it can just become a job. We made it fun again. We put in over 700 rounds and it paid off tonight big time.”
It was somewhat bittersweet for Wilder, who has a long, strong history with Helenius, Wilder’s former sparring partner.
“Robert has the heart of a champion and I knew what he was capable of,” Wilder said. “I didn't take him lightly at all. I know that he really wanted this. When you fight Deontay Wilder, you have to have your A plus plus game.
“I set him up. I allowed him to reach and when he reached, I attacked. It was a great fight.
“I've been hearing rumors about (Oleksandr) Usyk but he's not here, is he? When guys see these knockouts, they turn the corner away from me. I'm ready for whatever. Whether it's Andy Ruiz Jr. or Usyk, I'm ready. Deontay is back and the excitement in the heavyweight division is back.”
Caleb Plant delivers highlight-reel KO KO of Anthony Dirrell
The bad blood between the two was instantly palpable. Dirrell was the aggressor in the first round, throwing wild, wide shots at Plant, who retreated. There was one sequence, when Dirrell had Plant, 30, in a head lock under his left arm, and was hammering him to the ribs with his right.
Midway into the second, Dirrell, 37, landed the only significant punch, a right, though entering the second, Plant held a 22-10 edge in total punches landed.
With 2:02 left in the third, referee Harvey Dock had an animated discussion with Dirrell about roughing up Plant in the clinches. With :45 left in the third, the fighters got tangled and fell in a heap in Dirrell’s corner.
In closing second of the fourth, Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) cracked Dirrell with a left hook.
With 1:16 left in the eighth, Plant dropped Dirrell—with a shove, not a punch. Dock showed great patience in dealing with both fighters.
With 2:30 left in the ninth, Dirrell (34-3-2, 25 KOs) attacked Plant with a barrage of shots, and 30 seconds later proceeded to tell him about it. Plant had the perfect response as he unfurled a picturesque left hook at :07 that caught Dirrell right on the chin and sent him to the canvas for the full 10-count. Plant set it up perfectly with a left to the body, then went up top to knock out Dirrell.
Plant then pantomimed he was shoveling dirt on a grave. The official end came at 2:57 of the ninth.
"This win felt good,” said Plant. “You've heard about how much he hates me, but my head and my heart is what won me this fight. I was in control the whole time. My coach told me to stay patient and ease in and that's what we did. Then, boom!
"I'm ready for whatever comes next. I'm going to spend some time with my family, but then I'm ready for the biggest fights that we can make."
Frank Sanchez turns it up in RD5 and connects with Carlos Negron. Negron waving him on, saying bring some more. #SanchezNegron— Premier Boxing Champions (@premierboxing) October 16, 2022
Order #WilderHelenius NOW:https://t.co/SYpksHOjzH pic.twitter.com/cDHRPeQCqX
Frank Sanchez flashes late to stop Carlos Negron
Frank Sanchez is like a slow, plodding glacier. “The Cuban Flash” will wade in, and wade in, and finally stop you.
Sanchez (21-0, 14 KOs) bided his time before finally stopping game Carlos Negron (25-4, 20 KOs) at 1:36 of the ninth round.
“We knew that Negron was going to be tough and he definitely gave it his all,” Sanchez said. “He was tough for nine rounds, but the knockout was inevitable. I have nothing but respect for Negron, he fought a good fight. I just did what I had to do.
“I knew that the last three rounds I was going to step on the gas and knock him out late.”
Negron was taken to Lutheran Hospital for evaluation following the bout.
Through four rounds, Sanchez kept a steady attack. He tactically neared Negron and landed a shot to the body, or head, but nothing substantial enough to rock Negron.
Negron, for his part, did little. He did land a right on the side of Sanchez’s head in the second, but other than that, was content on flicking his jab with not much on it.
The first five rounds were Negron trying to crease Sanchez’s high guard, and Sanchez being safe and attacking in spurts.
With 1:02 left in the sixth, Sanchez opened up with a right to Negron’s chin, which reengaged the crowd. Sanchez followed with a left hook to the chin. With 1:20 left in the seventh, Sanchez again landed a big right, only to be pushed down seconds later, which referee Ricky Gonzalez rightfully called a slip.
What started slow ended fast, when Sanchez dropped Negron with a right with 2:26 left in the ninth, sending Negron to his knees. Negron was clearly hurt when he got back up, and by that time, Sanchez could smell the blood in the ring.
Sanchez increased the pressure, as Negron valiantly tried to keep him off, to no avail. Gonzalez wisely stepped in and ended it at 1:36 of the ninth.
“I'm a highly-rated fighter, so I feel like a mandatory shot for the world title is coming,” Sanchez said. “I'm just looking forward to fighting the best that the division has to offer. Hopefully the fans will get to see me in those big fights next year.”
Emmanuel Rodriguez hands Gary Antonio Russell his first loss
Emmanuel Rodriguez had waited 14 months to make up for 10 seconds. That’s how long it took for Rodriguez and Gary Antonio Russell to clash heads in August 2021, opening a gaping cut on Rodriguez’s forehead that turned the fight into a no-contest.
This time, the fight was stopped by referee Benjy Esteves at :02 of the 10th round at the recommendation of the ringside doctor after an unintentional head butt in the ninth, but not before the 30-year-old Rodriguez won the IBF world bantamweight title eliminator by unanimous technical decision.
It marked the first time southpaw Russell (19-1, 12 KOs) lost.
Judges Bernard Bruni (100-90), Ken Ezzo (97-93) and Tom Schreck (99-91) had it by wide scores on two of the three cards for Rodriguez.
“I knew that I was dominating the fight,” Rodriguez said. “When I knocked him down, I thought his corner should have stopped the fight. He wasn't right at that moment. The head butt definitely hurt, but I feel like I could have fought on. I'll get it checked out, but I'm okay.
“I'm going to get a little rest now, then I want to come back and fight for the world title.”
Rodriguez (21-2, 13 KOs) established himself early, connecting with a right to the body in the first, while Russell kept landing his jab from the southpaw stance. With less than 20 seconds in the round, Rodriguez momentarily stunned Russell with a counter right to the forehead, causing him to reel backwards and cause a stir in the crowd.
In the latter stages of the first, Russell had doubled Rodriguez’s punch output. By the first minute of the second, that figure had swayed in favor of Rodriguez.
As the rounds progressed, Rodriguez remained effective with the counter right. It was a counter right, followed by a left that had Russell off balance at the outset of the fourth. With 1:10 left in the fourth, Rodriguez caught Russell coming forward and landed a left hook to the jaw that caused Russell to stumble again. For some reason, Russell was not picking up the counter right.
Through four, it was easy to see Rodriguez up 4-0. Rodriguez closed a strong fifth with a one-two to Russell’s face.
With :50 left in the sixth, Rodriguez plowed Russell with a straight right to the face. Russell seemed hesitant. When he was active, he was missing, and was defenseless against Rodriguez counter right.
With :16 left in the eighth, Esteves had stopped the action for Rodriguez to recover from a low blow. A few seconds after the fight resumed, Rodriguez landed a textbook counter right that splashed on Russell’s jaw, sending him the canvas in deep trouble.
“If you get knocked down with a good shot, you obviously feel it,” Russell said. “People like to lie about that. But I was conscious and able to regain myself. It was the first time I was ever hurt in a fight, but I was prepared for it.”
Russell survived the round, but the doctors checked on him between rounds.
In the waning seconds of the ninth, Russell’s forehead slammed under the right eye of Rodriguez, opening a cut on his cheek. Rodriguez fell to the canvas and Esteves gave him time to recover.
“The head butt was just because of how our feet lined up,” Russell said. “He was ducking his head a lot and not trying to fight on the inside. He was trying to hold on the inside and that was smart. He’s a good fighter.”
Ringside doctors looked at Rodriguez’s cut before the 10th and determined he was unable to go on, turning the fight over to the scorecards.
“He was the better fighter today,” Russell said. “I felt like he out pointed me. I thought I started to pick it up after the fifth round but it wasn’t enough.”
Undercard results: Super welterweight Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (13-1, 8 KOs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Limberth Ponce (19-6, 11 KOs). Lightweight Michel Rivera (24-0, 14 KOs) won an eight-round decision over Jerry Perez (14-2, 11 KOs). Heavyweight Gurgen Hovhannisyan (4-0, 4 KOs) stopped Michael Coffie (13-3, 10 KOs) in six. Featherweight Michael Angeletti (7-0, 6 KOs) stopped Jeremy Adorno (7-1, 3 KOs) in six. Heavyweight James Evans, Jr. (5-0-1, 5 KOs) won by TKO over Geovany Bruzon (7-2, 6 KOs) at 1:18 of the third round. Welterweight Keeshawn Williams (10-1-1, 2 KOs) won a six-round decision over Julio Rosa (5-2, 2 KOs).
For a closer look at Wilder vs Helenius, check out our fight night page.