Doug Fischer

Ring Ratings Update: Helenius breaks into heavyweight rankings


This past Saturday was a busy one that caused a fair amount of movement in THE RING’s divisional ratings.

RING junior flyweight champ Giovani Segura’s third-round stoppage of Ivan Calderon in their rematch in Mexico resulted in the classy former champ dropping from No. 1 to No. 3 in the magazine’s 108-pound rankings.

Hernan Marquez, a previously unrated flyweight fringe contender from Mexico, crashed THE RING’s 112-pound rankings by stopping No. 2-rated Luis Concepcion in the 11th-round of a wild fight-of-the-year candidate in Panama.

However, the most intriguing change in THE RING’s ratings might have occurred in the heavyweight division, where Finnish prospect Robert Helenius advanced to contender status on the strength of his impressive ninth-round knockout of former titleholder Samuel Peter in Germany.

Despite his age, 27, which isn’t "old" for a heavyweight, Helenius is a work in progress. The 6-foot-6½ heavyweight hopeful is still learning his craft by going tough rounds with quality opposition, such as former beltholder Lamon Brewster, who Helenius stopped in eight rounds last January, and well-traveled Swedish veteran Attila Levin, who he blasted in two rounds in November.

Does the fact that Helenius has only fought in 15 pro bouts mean he’s not ready to be a contender, as THE RING, which rates him No. 9 among big men, views him? Or is his relatively limited pro experience just an indication of how special he is?

The latter is probably true. Usually, when a fighter is taking on — and taking out — a former titleholder prior to his 16th pro bout, he was a decorated amateur star, such as 2003 world amateur champ and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Alexander Povetkin. Helenius was a good amateur but he never won a major international tournament, which suggests that he has a degree of natural ability.

Povetkin, THE RING’s No. 3-rated heavyweight, stopped former two-time heavyweight beltholder Chris Byrd (40-3-1 at the time) in his 14th pro bout. Prior to Bryd, the pressure fighting Russian faced Larry Donald (42-4-3 at the time) and out-pointed the perennial contender over 10 rounds.

Alexander Dimitrenko (31-1, 21 KOs) and Dennis Boytsov (27-0, 22 KOs), THE RING’s Nos. 7 and 8 heavyweight contenders, have more pro experience (against reasonably solid opposition) than Helenius, but neither fighter has faced a former titleholder.

Should Dimitrenko and Boytsov be rated ahead of Helenius? Should Helenius be rated ahead of Chris Arreola, who “The Nordic Nightmare” bumped down to No. 10?

Arreola (30-2, 26 KOs), who first cracked the rankings with dominant performances over fellow prospects Damian Wills, Malcolm Tann and Chazz Witherspoon, has fought better opposition than Helenius. However, the Southern California-based Mexican-American slugger lost to those top fighters, No. 1-rated Vitali Kitschko (TKO by 10) and No. 4-rated Tomasz Adamek (MD 12).

Fans probably won’t know where Helenius really belongs until he faces a fellow contender, as Povetkin did when he out-hustled then-undefeated (30-0) Eddie Chambers to a majority decision victory in early 2008. It was Povetkin’s 16th pro bout.

Whoever Helenius fights next — some reports say his management wishes to angle him into a European title bout against Dimitrenko — fans will be paying attention.

Ring ratings update:

Heavyweights: Helenius’ knockout of Peter caused a minor shakeup at the bottom of top 10. Helenius enters at No. 9, Arreola slips from No. 9 to No. 10 and Kubrat Pulev (No. 10 last week) exits.

Super middleweight: Andre Dirrell (No. 5 last week) departs because he has not fought in more than a year. All fighters ranked No. 6 or below last week advance one spot each, and Dimitri Sartison debuts at No. 10.

“The case of Andre Dirrell is unusual,” said Nigel Collins, Editor-in-Chief of THE RING. “Dirrell’s most recent fight ended in a disqualification win over Arthur Abraham, who was DQ’d for hitting Dirrell in the head while he was down. Dirrell subsequently withdrew from the Super Six tournament, claiming he was still suffering the aftereffects of Abraham’s foul. However, if Dirrell’s head injury was serious enough to keep him out of the ring for more than a year, he probably should never box again. If he does eventually return to action, Dirrell’s past accomplishments will be taken into consideration when deciding where he should be ranked.”

Lightweights: Ali Funeka (No. 4 last week) exits because he has not fought in more than a year. Undefeated John Murray (No. 6 last week) moves up to No. 4 following his win over Karim El Ouazghari. Miguel Acosta stay at No. 5 and all ranked below him last week climb one rung each. Funeka’s departure also makes room for Antonio De Marco to come aboard at No. 10.

Flyweights: Herman Marquez’ KO of Luis Concepcion resulted in a significant shakeup: Marquez enters at No. 3, while Takefumi Sakata moves up from No. 3 to No. 2. Concepcion (No. 2 last week) falls to No. 4, while all below the fourth spot are pushed down by Marquez’ debut. Tomonobu Shimizu (No. 10 last week) exits.

Junior flyweights: World champion Giovani Segura gutted former champ Ivan Calderon for a third-round KO, which causes Calderon (No. 1 last weeks) to tumble down to No. 3. Gilberto Keb Baas (No. 2 last week) and Omar Nino (No. 3 last week) rise No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

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