By Jack Sumner @Jack_Sumner_
|The 'Nordic Nightmare' Returns.|
Unbeaten heavyweight Robert Helenius (18-0, 11 KO’s) faces a tough test against British stalwart of the division Michael Sprott (37-19, 17 KO’s), on the undercard of the Arthur Abraham and Robert Stieglitz rematch this Saturday at the GETEC Arena in Magdeburg, Germany.
Finland’s 6’6” Helenius was at one stage being touted as a future star of the sport after a string of knockout victories, which included notable wins over Lamon Brewster and Samuel Peter. But the ‘Nordic Nightmare’ saw his stock fall in late 2011, when he was gifted a split-decision verdict over Dereck Chisora in a fight where the consensus scored in favour of the Londoner.
It was during that encounter that Helenius suffered an injury to his right shoulder and was subsequently forced out of action for an eleven-month period, requiring surgery. In November of last year, he returned with an uninspiring ten-round decision over tough veteran Sherman Williams, but was rocked badly in the sixth round and didn’t appear to be able to generate as much power with the right hand as before the Chisora fight.
|Sprott's last big opportunity?|
A lingering shoulder injury is not something that Helenius needs going into a fight with an experienced campaigner like Sprott and a shorter fighter who’ll continue to apply dangerous pressure unless discouraged by power shots.
Despite his age and the number losses on his record, the 38-year-old Sprott still has plenty of desire as evidenced by his most recent outing against German prospect Edmund Gerber.
Last September, Sprott lost to Gerber via fourth round TKO in a fight that featured the Berkshire native’s infamous confrontation with the referee after he deemed the fight had been stopped prematurely. But after lobbying for a rematch, Sprott was successful not only in getting Gerber back into the ring in December, but outpointing the man fourteen years his senior and taking Gerber’s unbeaten record.
Helenius, 29, will no doubt be the favourite on Saturday but has a live opponent in Sprott who could cause him plenty of issues should he get inside his height and reach advantage. If the Nordic Nightmare has fully rehabilitated his biggest weapon in that right hand however, he has the power to send Sprott to sleep with a single punch.
Will Helenius return in impressive fashion to re-ignite his push for a world title shot? Or will the underrated veteran Sprott pull the upset and take another unbeaten record in the process?