BROOKLYNN: Former heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder knocked out Robert Helenius in the first round as he made a successful comeback to boxing.
The 36-year-old American entered the ring for the first time since Tyson Fury knocked him out twice back in October.
With a few seconds remaining in the first round, he delivered his renowned right-hand strike to the face of his Finnish opponent Helenius.
“It was a great night,” said Wilder.
“I had to take my time. I was making him reach. I wanted to be mobile, agile, and hostile. I set him up, allowed him to reach, and then when he reached, I attacked.”
He added: “We wanted to make this fun again. You can do this so long it can be a job, just something you are doing. We made it fun. It paid off big time.”
At Barclays Center, Wilder defeated his longtime sparring partner Helenius to extend his record to 43-2 with one tie and 42 knockouts.
The consecutive losses to Fury were the first in Wilder’s otherwise spotless career and cost him the WBC title he had held since 2015. In the months that followed, he had given retirement considerable thought.
Andy Ruiz Jr., a fellow American and former world champion, or Oleksandr Usyk could be his next opponent. He also wants to fight Britain’s Anthony Joshua because he believes it would be “the best fight in the world.”
“Who’s next? I’m down for whatever,” Wilder said. “Andy Ruiz, Usyk, or whatever. I’m back. The excitement is back in the heavyweight division.”