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    Helenius steps up as Joshua’s opponent ahead of Saturday’s bout

    August 9, 2023

     

    Former heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua is set to face Robert Helenius at London’s O2 Arena this Saturday, stepping in as a replacement for Dillian Whyte after the latter failed a voluntary drug test. The abrupt change of opponent came as a surprise to Joshua, who expressed his laser-focused determination to secure a victory against Helenius.

    Helenius last faced Deontay Wilder, suffering a first-round knockout defeat in October. While he has never contested for a world title, Helenius’ resolve remains unshaken. He recently secured a third-round TKO victory over Mika Mielonen in Finland, further showcasing his determination.

    Despite his short notice entry, Helenius (32-4) is eager to take on the challenge. “I am a true Viking that is willing to face any challenge at a moment’s notice,” the 39-year-old declared, emphasizing his readiness to seize this unexpected opportunity.

    For Joshua, this fight offers the possibility of a much-anticipated clash with former WBC champion Deontay Wilder, potentially occurring in early 2025. Joshua’s successful track record at the O2 Arena adds an extra layer of confidence as he steps into the ring once again.

    Despite the unexpected opponent change, promoter Eddie Hearn revealed Joshua’s calm reaction to the situation. Hearn shared Joshua’s strong desire to fight and praised his exceptional physical condition in preparation for the bout.

    The original matchup between Joshua and Whyte was announced in July, setting the stage for a rematch of their 2015 bout. Joshua emerged victorious in their previous encounter, securing a seventh-round knockout and avenging his earlier loss to Whyte in their amateur rivalry.

    Helenius stepping up has been very important as it prevents the fight from being called off totally. If that had happened, it would have taken months before we hear of another Joshua fixture again. While it is not a title match, we can expect both fighters to bring their A-game to the ring as they fight for what is at stake to them.  

    Leon Osamor 

     

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