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Wilder vs Helenius predictions: Who wins the main event and Plant vs Dirrell?

Deontay Wilder returns against Robert Helenius on Saturday night, plus a heated showdown between Caleb Plant and Anthony Dirrell.

Deontay Wilder returns against Robert Helenius on Saturday night
Deontay Wilder returns against Robert Helenius on Saturday night
Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Deontay Wilder is back in action this Saturday in Brooklyn, facing Robert Helenius in the main event of a FOX PBC pay-per-view, with Caleb Plant and Anthony Dirrell providing chief support on the undercard.

Will Deontay roar back into the swing of things with another knockout? Does Helenius have an upset shot? What about Plant vs Dirrell and the rest of the PPV undercard?

Our predictions:

Deontay Wilder vs Robert Helenius

Scott Christ (69-31)

Any heavyweight as big as Helenius who doesn’t somehow have pillow fists (he doesn’t) has a shot. But Deontay Wilder’s career has been built on knocking out the likes of Robert Helenius, basically.

Unless Wilder is hesitant or just too far shaken after what was a bad beating at the hands of Tyson Fury about a year ago, I think he does his usual thing here. He legitimately seems comfortable, happy, and in good spirits going into this fight, fully relaxed. That’s bad news for the “Nordic Nightmare,” but I have no doubt Helenius comes here to win. That could get him knocked out earlier than I predict, too. Wilder KO-8

Wil Esco (81-19)

Call me a skeptic, but I know how much Deontay Wilder means to PBC and I am strongly of the belief that if they thought Robert Helenius posed a real credible threat here, this fight wouldn’t even be happening. I know there’s some who believe in Helenius’ chances because he’s a big boy who can punch, but given their history as sparring partners I’m sure Wilder and his handlers are plenty comfortable with the style matchup. I don’t want to say there’s zero chance that Helenius pulls off a win here, but I don’t really see the stylistic advantages for him here, and think it’s largely a matter of time before Wilder catches him with a right hand.

This fight might actually make it towards the championship rounds because Wilder has been known to take his time as he dials up the one-hitter-quitter, but I’m going to say that Wilder gets the job done inside the distance. Wilder TKO-10

John Hansen (77-23)

I won’t tell you that this fight is worth PPV money, because I myself won’t be spending any money to watch it. Not when it’s up against Haney vs Kambosos 2.

And I won’t tell you that Robert Helenius is a major threat to Wilder’s comeback. He’s a lot more viable than the likes of Mahmoud Charr and Kevin Lerena, and he’s certainly earned his opportunity at a big fight after back-to-back knockouts of Adam Kownacki. But when Scott put the question to me, I gave him a 10% shot at a win here, and only through a skinny and precarious path.

The fact is, nobody stands up to Deontay Wilder’s power. A few hearty men have gotten up from it, most notably Tyson Fury four different times. But no one gets through unhurt. And Robert Helenius is, at his best, a tattooed and fuzzy-bearded Tyson Fury stunt double, not a real replacement for the man himself.

I will tell you that it’s great to have Deontay Wilder back fighting again, and Robert Helenius is sturdy and dangerous enough to make him work to get a comeback victory. How long will Helenius hang in against the biggest one-shot power threat in the sport? Let’s say… Wilder TKO-6

Patrick Stumberg (82-18)

There’s only so much technical analysis you can do on a Wilder fight when 99% of his matchups boil down to:

And yes, I do know that I could just cut that entire function down to “return wilder.LandRightHand(opponent)” since it’s already a boolean value, but sometimes you gotta sacrifice efficiency for clarity.

In less reductive terms, I just don’t think Helenius has it in him to steer clear of that punch. “The Nordic Nightmare” is big, determined, and aggressive, but guys like Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz showed that those adjectives aren’t sufficient to carry you past Wilder. It’s a whole other story if Wilder’s head isn’t in the right place, and that’s a fair concern to raise; while he definitely gave a better account of himself in the third Fury fight than the second, he was also short on the convenient delusions that let him go into that trilogy match with confidence. Still, I feel like we can at least trust him to chuck a right hand every once in a while, and Helenius’ head will be there to greet it. Wilder KO-5

Caleb Plant vs Anthony Dirrell

Scott Christ (69-31)

If we were talking 2014 Dirrell against today’s Caleb Plant, I might lean to the power of “The Dog,” but we aren’t. I’m as much a critic of Plant’s terrible 168 lb title reign as anyone — Mike Lee getting a world title fight was all-timer bad — but Dirrell just hasn’t looked good in at least four years.

The fountain of youth or Plant being wrecked by his loss to Canelo 11 months ago are the chances I think Dirrell has. He’s always been a good puncher, but not a huge one, and he’s never really stopped better opponents anyway. I actually think both these guys have brought up some valid points about one another in the lead-up. My main hope is that Dirrell’s bite matches his bark this time, because he’s spoken with genuine animosity toward Plant. If he really comes to go all-out, he might be able to catch Caleb cold in the early rounds. If not, I think Plant boxes his way to a victory that badly frustrates an aged Dirrell and makes him seriously considering hanging up the gloves, not because he takes such a bad beating, but just because he questions where he is anymore. Plant UD-12

Wil Esco (81-19)

Man, I was really critical of Caleb Plant’s run as a world champion because his opposition was clearly handpicked and pretty damn terrible. Plant waited until he lined up a big money fight with Canelo Alvarez where he took his shot against elite competition, and we all know how that ended. I don’t really want to dog Anthony Dirrell here (no pun intended), but I’ve never been all that high on him as a boxer and I think he is a considerable step down in competition from Canelo. Add in the fact that Dirrell is an aging fighter without any real dynamic aspects to his game, and I just see this being a relatively one-sided points win for Plant. I don’t think we’ll get any great action in this one, so it’s likely to be a forgettable affair, but I just hope that we get to see Plant back in the deep end sooner rather than later. Plant UD-12

John Hansen (77-23)

Anthony Dirrell turns 38 the day these predictions publish. He hasn’t looked too impressive against a legit opponent in four-and-a-half years, at least. Caleb Plant may be very good, or he may be slightly better than very good. He’s looked that way in victories over everyone he’s faced other than Canelo Alvarez. Anthony Dirrell isn’t Canelo Alvarez. Plant UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (82-18)

Admirable as Dirrell’s longevity is, it’s been a long time since he last impressed against a quality opponent. The last four years have seen him go neck-and-neck with Avni Yildirim, get shellacked by David Benavidez, fight Kyrone Davis to a draw, and knock out Marcos Hernandez. He clearly still has some pop and technique, but he’s not a top super middleweight anymore. With all due respect, this is essentially a wellness check for Plant; if he’s recovered from that Canelo loss, there’s not a lot stopping him from running circles around Dirrell.

To be fair, Plant’s opponents outside of Canelo and Jose Uzcategui weren’t anything to write home about, but at least he beat the people he was supposed to beat without issue. He’s more than proven his ability to handle an aging, ponderous foe like Dirrell, even if he’s highly unlikely to find the finish. Plant UD-12

Quick Picks!

Frank Sanchez vs Carlos Negron

  • Scott: Sanchez TKO-5
  • Wil: Sanches UD-10
  • John: Sanchez TKO-9
  • Patrick: Sanchez TKO-3

Gary Antonio Russell vs Emmanuel Rodriguez 2

  • Scott: Russell SD-12
  • Wil: Russell UD-12
  • John: Rodriguez MD-12
  • Patrick: Rodriguez SD-12

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