After two straight stoppage losses to Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder bounced back big on Saturday with a knockout win over Robert Helenius. It happened via a devastating right hook that left a scary image of a glassy-eyed Helenius lying on the canvas.
But “The Bronze Bomber” wasn’t in full jubilation after seeing his former training partner in such a state. Not only did he apologize to Helenius after the bout, but he also issued a tearful yet strong message to fans to serve as a reminder about showing respect to all prizefighters.
“I always have concern for all fighters,” Wilder said during the post-fight presser (quotes via MMA Fighting). “I’m a big advocate for fighters because like I always say, we get done wrong. A sport is something you play. You don’t play this.
“We risk our lives for you guys’ entertainment and I speak that forever. When you have a relationship with a man, when you love a man, and you build a friendship with another man, although he’s thousands of miles away from where I am, when you see things like that, you want to come to their aid.
“I wanted to come to his aid but they wouldn’t let me and I understood because he needed space.”
For Wilder, a knockout win may serve him well. The other person, on the other hand, may be severely compromised, something outside observers never really give too much consideration to.
“But my heart goes out to him and I hope he’s doing OK and he can be able to go back to his family, because this is a tough business that we’re in. This is why I tell people, you’ve got to respect all fighters.
“People always go about worrying about records and all this, ‘He lost, he’s a bum,’ and all that. You get your bum ass in there then and let’s see who’s the bum, really. Because you don’t play this. You can’t play this.
“We demand respect at all times, every fighter that steps in the ring. I don’t care what the record is, I don’t care who they are or where they come from, it demands respect, because if not, then you see things like that happen. And then, ‘Oh, it’s a great knockout,’
“Yeah, it’s a great knockout, it’s devastating, making history and stuff like that, but how much is that man going to suffer?
“He may be alright right now, a little bit, but what about the next day? What about two weeks from now? What about a month from now? Maybe years from now.”
Wilder got more emotional when he began talking about 30-year-old Prichard Colón, who was repeatedly punched in the back of the head during his 2015 fight with Terrel Williams. He fell into a 221-day coma and has since been in a vegetative state.
“Look at Colon. Prichard Colon. This man ain’t have no kids. They don’t understand, they don’t f—ng understand what we go through. And I don’t even know him like that.
“But I will always be an advocate for us because this man would never know what it feels like to be somebody’s father. And that’s some of the (most) precious things in the world, to be somebody’s father. But he’ll never be nobody’s father, man.
“This man will never have a natural ability of living again because got in the ring to support his family. And now, his family’s got to take care of him for the rest of his life.”
Going back to Helenius, Wilder only wishes for the best.
“We don’t know if Robert’s gonna be the same after this. I just did a job. I’m great at what I do. I don’t mean to take people away from their lifestyle of living. I’m just trying to support my family as well.
“This is what we sign up to do and, unfortunately, there’s a winner and a loser and sometimes it’s a draw. But who takes on that responsibility when they can’t work no more?
“Robert could be the breadwinner of his family, but what if he can’t do it no more, then what? Who pays the bills? Who pays the mortgage? He’s got kids — who will look out for his kids?
“Because we all know when you lose and it ain’t going right, those same people that when you win, that kiss you and say they love you, they ain’t there for you no more. Where they at?”
Wilder checked on Helenius in his hotel after the fight as well, sharing an emotional moment with his opponent.
“I love you bro, I’m sorry,” Wilder said as they share a long embrace after the contest. “You okay? I love you man.”
Helenius went on to say that he is probably retiring after the KO loss, and thanked Wilder as they hugged again.
Wilder finally got to check in on Helenius and the moment they shared was incredible. If you don’t appreciate wilder, you don’t appreciate boxing. pic.twitter.com/1wDiZFpjcz— Lex (@BadBeatsLex) October 16, 2022
With Saturday’s win, Wilder’s record improved to 43-2-1.