HELSINKI — Dereck Chisora fell agonisingly short in his attempt to win the vacant European heavyweight title, losing a split decision to Robert Helenius in Finland.
Zimbabwe-born Chisora, who entered the contest at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki having won 15 of his 16 professional fights, was the busier of the two fighters, but Helenius was rewarded for his more eye-catching shots, prevailing 115-113, 113-115, 115-113 on the judges’ scorecards.
Home favourite Helenius takes his unbeaten record to 17 fights, while Chisora — who lost the British and Commonwealth titles to Tyson Fury in July — must contemplate his next move after suffering a second defeat in three bouts.
A visibly pumped up Chisora (27) began the brighter of the two, regularly backing up Helenius with clusters of punches. Indeed, the pace at which he was going about his business clearly did not sit well with his more patient opponent, Chisora pouring forward and unloading whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Chisora continued to set a frenetic pace in the second, though at times his eagerness played into Helenius’ hands as he found himself on the receiving end of some stiff uppercuts, although smarter footwork and head movement ensured he out-manoeuvred his opponent in the third.
As the fight progressed a similar pattern emerged; as one went on the back foot the other came forward and applied the pressure.
Each man had his moments, and as Chisora’s work-rate slowed at sporadic times during the clash, Helenius took advantage by delivering crisp uppercuts at close quarters.
Both fighters were blowing in the closing stages, though neither refused to yield. Searching for a grandstand finish, Chisora ploughed forward, but it was Helenius who rocked the Brit with a big left hook in the final round.
Both men looked out on their feet at the end, with neither celebrating as though victory was guaranteed, but the decision went to Helenius, who can add his triumph to a CV which contains impressive victories over former world champions Siarhei Liakhovich, Samuel Peter and Lamon Brewster.