By Scott Gilfoid: British/Commonwealth heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KOs) was thought to be targeting former world title challenger Dereck Chisora next on April 9th at the O2 Arena in London, UK. But now Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is saying that Joshua could go after the EBU heavyweight title by facing the winner of this Saturday’s fight between Robert Helenius (21-0, 13 KOs) and Franz Rill (11-0, 7 KOs).
Helenius-Rill fight will be for the vacant EBU title at the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland. It was originally supposed to be a fight between Erkan Teper and Helenius, but Teper suffered an injury and had to pull out of the fight.
The 31-year-old Helenius is now considered to be the favorite to win this fight and move forward to bigger and better things. That could be a fight against the 6’6” Joshua if Hearn can make it worthwhile for Helenius to the fight.
“People are talking about Dereck Chisora, which is ideal if we go down the British title defence route, but I think we might prefer the European title route,” Hearn said to skysports.com via the dailymail.co.uk. “Robert Helenius is fighting Franz Rill for the title on Saturday and that is a strap we might well go for – AJ wants to go the route,” Hearn said.
The 6’6” Helenius is a big puncher, and he could be a real problem for Joshua if he lands his big shots. I could see Joshua getting flattened by Helenius if he gets nailed with a clean shot.
You have to wonder whether the 31-year-old Chisora might have scared Hearn off by his comments about wanting to be paid for the fight against Joshua. Is it a money thing with Hearn and Joshua for them not possibly facing Chisora, or does they really want to win the EBU title because it is the next meaningful strap.
It could also be that Chisora’s fighting style is too similar to Dillian Whyte’s fighting style, and it could be a problematic fight for Joshua if Chisora is able to land one of his big shots. Chisora could not land against Tyson Fury in their two fights, because Fury was fighting defensively the entire time in both fights. However, with Joshua, he likes to mix it up with his opponents, and Chisora would definitely have opportunities to land his power shots and possibly even hurt him.
If Whyte was able to stagger Joshua before suffering a shoulder injury in the 2nd round last Saturday, then Chisora could very well do the same thing. The difference is Chisora does not have any known shoulder issues that might stop him from fighting hard for more than two rounds like those that it did with Whyte.
“April 9 will be Anthony Joshua’s next outing and again it will be at the O2 – it’s his home,” Barry Hearn said. “We are also keeping our eye on the IBF route and on top of all that, David Haye remains a huge fight. However, right now we are prioritizing titles and David doesn’t bring that to the table at this point. It is, however, one I think will happen down the line.”
If Joshua and Hearn were to choose the often- injured 35-year-old Haye, they could wind up crying crocodile tears if he comes up with an injury or two during training camp that causes their fight to get postponed over and over again. At this point, they should take a wait and see approach to Haye to see if he can make it through training camp for his next fight against #10 WBA Mark De Mori next month on January 16th. If they sign on too soon for the Haye fight, they could find out the hard way that his aging body can’t make it through training camp in one piece.
Joshua needs to be fighting more than every four months. He’s being matched like he’s a world champion instead of a prospect by Hearn. The best way for Joshua to learn is for him to be fighting at least six times a year, not three.
It looks like Hearn is focusing on loading Joshua up for big paying gigs each time he fights rather than for frequent gigs used for him to learn something. You can make an argument that it is bad when a fighter is already making big money at the start of their careers like Joshua, because instead of that fighter getting in a lot of learning fights, they wind up being loaded up for just the money gigs three times per year.