COMMENTARY: Winning all wrong
By Tapio Keskitalo
There are ways and ways of winning, and not all of them are good.
Coming through 1-0 after a disputed penalty that saw the opposition's captain and centre-half sent off for no good reason isn't particularly illustrious, and nor is getting a fluke clear run in the 800 metres when all the fancied runners are busily elbowing and impeding one another out of contention.
But for most people, it's the result that counts.
All the same, many Finnish TV-viewers' jaws hit the floor when Robert Helenius was declared the new holder of the EBU European Heavyweight Championship belt late on Saturday night.
After the split-decision result was announced, the discussion of its merits or otherwise has gone on at high revs.
The main thrust of the debate has been that Dereck Chisora was in reality better than Helenius over 12 rounds and that he was robbed of a deserved victory.
I wonder if we have ever seen such domestic criticism of a European Championship title won by a Finnish athlete.
Ironically enough, a good many people believed Helenius was a better fighter before he got the belt than after he was entitled to wear it.
And Helenius did, after all, create a bit of Finnish boxing history by his win in the Hartwall Arena.
In the world of boxing, it is clearly not just the result that counts, but also the way it is achieved and who the opposition happens to be.
For Helenius, who has dreams of a World Championship title shot, the result in Helsinki was both a good thing and a bit of a body-blow.
There is no denying that the critical voices have firm grounds for their carping.
It was not merely the armchair pugilists who wondered aloud at Helenius's hand being raised, for nearly all the sport's experts have said the same thing.
Chisora was considerably more active, taking the fight to the Finn, and even if a lot of his blows only found Helenius's guard and gloves, he also racked up the points at a steady pace.
Helenius, carrying an injured right hand from the first round, was by contrast rather passive and used his powerful right very sparingly.
All in all, it was an exciting and good quality bout, with only the outcome causing furrowed brows.
On the papers of the boxing experts, there seems to be a pretty large variation in just how many points Chisora was better than his opponent.
Some saw the bout as pretty close, others had Chisora the winner by a wide margin.
A few would even have accepted a draw, for instance if one judge had called it for Helenius and one for Chisora, and if the third had the two boxers level.
The spread in the views indicates just how difficult the awarding of points in professional boxing can be on occasion. Points are given for each round separately, and not for the the entire bout.
With the pressure of large and loud home crowd, an even round can easily slip into a win for the home favourite.
It's not suppose to happen like that, but that's the way the human mind often works.
In a sporting sense, a rematch would be the only right and proper solution, since the title bout left such a bitter taste in the mouth.
Unfortunately, such things as fairness and sportsmanship are by no means always fundamental values in a sport such as professional boxing, known more for its political intrigues.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 5.12.2011
Previously in HS International Edition:
Helenius´s hand injury less serious than first thought (7.12.2011)
Controversial split decision awards Helenius European heavyweight title
Robert Helenius (Wikipedia)
TAPIO KESKITALO / Helsingin Sanomat