SAN DIEGO, Calif. March 6, 2020 – “Helenius upsets Kownacki” wasn’t the headline anyone expected from Saturday’s main event in the heavyweight division. But here came Robert Helenius straight outta Scandanavia (30-3, 19 KOs) to stop Brooklyn’s Adam Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs) for the first time in Kownacki’s professional career, ruining the home town favorite’s night and derailing his hope to join the heavyweight division sweepstakes.
Helenius was knocked out cold by Gerald Washington, but he told anyone who would listen he was healthy for the first time in several years and felt sharp after sparring at Deontay Wilder’s Alabama gym.
“I want to thank everyone who gave me this opportunity,” said Helenius, who lives and trains in Finland. “Kownacki is a tough fighter. I worked hard in training camp and it paid off.”
Helenius put his height and reach advantage to work over Kownacki, and Kownacki could not keep the bigger man at bay. In the fourth round, Helenius hit Kownacki flush with a right hook and put him down with a left hook. Kownacki got up, but Helenius wasn’t going to let him off easy. He swarmed Kownacki, battering him around the ring until referee David Fields stepped in to end the fight at 1:08 of the fourth round.
“I knew that I hit him hard and I knew I just had to continue,” said Helenius. “I knew he was still hurt after that punch. Kownacki just kept coming and coming. He’s a good fighter I have to give it to him. My strength is to punch back when people come at me. It was a good fight and a tremendous opportunity for me to be here.”
Helenius resurrected his career, and Kownacki will have to go back to the drawing board.
“It wasn’t my night,” said Kownacki. “It’s boxing. It’s a tough sport and things just didn’t go my way tonight. It was a learning experience and I’m going to go back to the drawing board and get back to work. He hit me with a good shot. I knew what was going on, but I’m just upset with myself. It is what it is.”
Ajagba stops Cojanu in nine rounds
In the co-main event, Efe Ajagba of Houston (13-0, 11 KOs) scored a ninth-round TKO over Razvan Cojanu of Romania (17-7, 9 KOs), knocking him down twice en route to the victory.
Ajagba had to put in work against a tough and determined Cojanu, who stood up to Ajagba’s early efforts and landed some good hooks of his own on the former Nigerian Olympian. But Ajagba’s power eventually caught up with Cojanu’s fortitude, and by round eight Cojanu’s left eye started to close from accumulated damage. Late in the round, Ajagba forced Cojani to take a knee courtesy of a straight right hand.
Cojanu survived the round, but the end was near. Ajagba pressed the action, and though it took him most of the ninth round, referee Ron Lipton called off the bout at 2:46 of the ninth round.
“Ronnie told me to attack the body behind the jab,” said Ajagba. “It was very effective and it started to slow him down. When he got close to me, I knew to throw more and punish him. Cojanu has a lot of experience. When I threw my jab, he used his right hand to block my vision, so I couldn’t throw as many combinations as I wanted. It was a good challenge.”
Sanchez scores unanimous decision over Dawejko
In the televised opener, heavyweight prospect Frank Sanchez of Las Vegas (15-0, 11 KOs) scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Joey Dawejko of Philadelphia (20-8-4, 11 KOs) to remain unbeaten.Scores were 100-90 X 2 and 98-92.
The Cuban born Sanchez fought from the outside and used ring movement to avoid Dawejko’s offense while staying busier in the ring. Sanchez caused a cut from a punch on Dawejko’s right eye, and he did more damage to the cut through the remained of the fight. Sanchez outlanded Dawejko by 116 landed punches to just 46 for Dawejko.
“I didn’t want to fight Dawejko’s fight, and he realized that and it frustrated him,” said Sanchez. “He might have thought he’s faced guys like me, but there’s no other heavyweight like me,” said Sanchez. “I was well prepared and I thought I fought very well tonight. I dominated the fight. I showed good footwork and movement and did exactly what we worked on. I expected a lot of pressure, but with my boxing ability, there was no way he was going to catch me.”
Dawejko says he wasn’t surprised by Sanchez. “I knew he was going to fight on the outside and he stayed on the outside. Not much to say, he just did what he had to do. He was scared that’s why he was running around. He kept jumping back and staying away, so I guess he made it easy on the judges.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
Copyright © 2020 by Falcon Valley Group