A night of heavyweight action at the Barclays Center ended with what might end up as one of the biggest upsets of 2020.
In the main event of a PBC on FOX card, Robert Helenius stopped rising unbeaten contender Adam Kownacki in the fourth round to win a WBA heavyweight title eliminator.
Kownacki, who has fought at the Barclays Center throughout most of his career in the last five years, seemed to have the upper hand in the first three rounds after landing a number of combinations at Helenius. Despite this, Kownacki did leave himself open numerous times and Helenius was able to find opportunities to land some punches on Kownacki’s face.
In the fourth round, Helenius scored two straight jabs on Kownacki, sending him to the canvas, but the referee ruled it a slip and not a knockdown. Helenius would then score a legitimate knockdown seconds later, hurting the Polish heavyweight. Once Kownacki got back up, Helenius quickly went to work, throwing several punches upstairs and sending him to the ropes, which prompted the referee to stop the fight.
It is a big win for Helenius, the once-promising European prospect who owns wins over the likes of Samuel Peter and Siarhei Liakhovich. Eight months ago, Helenius was knocked out by former title challenger Gerald Washington, but his career is now back on the rise and almost guaranteed a big fight down the road.
With the win, Helenius moves one step closer towards a heavyweight title shot, but he is likely going to have to wait a while before getting his title shot. The current WBA “Super” champion is Anthony Joshua, who also holds the WBO and IBF titles and is set to fight IBF mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in June. Afterwards, Joshua might defend his titles against the WBO mandatory next, meaning Helenius could potentially be waiting until 2021 before having a title shot.
In undercard action, unbeaten prospect Efe Ajagba dominated Razvan Cojanu en route to a ninth-round stoppage to continue his climb as a heavyweight prospect. Ajagba scored a knockdown in the eighth round and then scored a flurry of punches that forced Cojanu to take a knee in the ninth round. However, the referee saw Cojanu’s battered face and the fact that he was constantly punished by Ajagba and had no choice but to stop the fight.
Opening the card, Cuban heavyweight prospect Frank Sanchez nearly pitched a shutout on all three scorecards when he beat Joey Dawejko. Sanchez won the bout by unanimous decision with two of the three judges scoring it 100-90 while the third judge had him winning 98-92.