By Vince D’Writer: The last time Anthony Joshua faced a substitute opponent, he lost his WBA/WBO/IBF heavyweight titles, and on the night of August 12th, at the 02 Arena in London, he faced the same type of scenario, but this time he came out victorious as he knocked out Robert Helenius (32-5, 21 KOs) in the 7th round.
Back in June 2019, Anthony Joshua was scheduled to fight Jarrell Miller, but Miller failed his drug test, and late replacement Andy Ruiz Jr shocked the world by knocking Joshua down four times and eventually stopping him in the 7th round.
Fast forward four years later, and Joshua was initially set to rematch his rival Dillian Whyte, but Whyte failed the drug test, and Robert Helenius stepped in and accepted the challenge on five days’ notice. Joshua entered the contest risking a big future payday, while Helenius entered the bout with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Helenius started the match by pressing forward, utilizing his jab, and throwing the right to the body. In the opening minute of the second round, Anthony Joshua landed a solid left hook, and thirty seconds later, he landed a hard right-hand shot.
Roles were reversed in the third round as Joshua was pressing forward while Helenius was fighting off the back foot. Joshua stayed busy with the jab, and he closed out the third round by landing another solid right hand.
Joshua picked up the pace early in the 5th round as he continued to use his jab and land the right hand. Joshua was taking his time and proceeding with caution as he spent more time fighting in the inside.
At the start of round 7, Robert Helenius looked fatigued as he was hit by multiple single jabs. Anthony Joshua went on to throw a double jab followed by a crushing overhand right that sent Helenius down to the canvas, as the referee put an immediate halt to the contest.
After knocking out Helenius, Anthony Joshua proceeded to get out of the ring and greet the fans in the 02 Arena. He also had an embrace with Conor McGregor prior to getting back in the ring to conduct a post-fight interview.
The knockout victory was a sign of relief for Anthony Joshua. Since his 2019 stoppage defeat to Andy Ruiz and his back-to-back losses Oleksandr Usyk, the former unified heavyweight champion, has experienced an issue with a lack of confidence, but knocking out Helenius with a single shot had to be the ultimate confidence builder.
During his post-fight interview, Anthony Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) thanked Robert Helenius for being a late replacement and saving the show. He also referred to Helenius as a talented boxer that he had to figure out.
When asked about a showdown with Deontay Wilder, Joshua jokingly replied, “My back, my back, is there a doctor in here? My back is gone because I’m about to carry this heavyweight division to the top!”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn also thanked Robert Helenius for stepping up to the challenge and saving the show. When asked the Deontay Wilder question, Hearn had a more direct answer.
“That’s the fight we want. We got a three-fight plan, whether you like it or not,” Hearn said.”It was Robert Helenius, supposed to be Dillian Whyte, Deontay Wilder, and then Tyson Fury; that’s the ambition of this team.”
Since suffering back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, the 33-year-old Anthony Joshua has bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over Jermaine Franklin and a knockout win over Robert Helenius. However, neither one of those opponents are remotely close to the challenge that lies ahead.
Former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) is a knockout artist who is looking forward to facing Anthony Joshua, a boxer he’s been linked to for a significant amount of time. A clash between the two former heavyweight champions is an event that boxing fans want to see, and it’s expected to take place in January 2024 in Saudi Arabia.