Posted on 08/08/2023
By: Sean Crose
“I am excited about fighting Anthony Joshua on August 12,” heavyweight contender Robert Helenius says. “I am a true Viking that is willing to face any challenge at a moment’s notice. This is not an opportunity I was going to let slip away. I plan to make the most of it!” Helenius is referring to the fact that he has been tapped to be Anthony Joshua’s opponent this Saturday in London. Joshua was supposed to face old foe Dillian Whyte, but Whyte failed a VADA drug test, leading to his scheduled bout with Joshua to be cancelled. Joshua’s team was desperate to find a solid opponent, and Helenius fits the bill.
“This wasn’t in the script,” says Joshua. “I respect Helenius and may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring. I am laser focused on the win. I can make steps forward to bigger and better things but the road map has a check point, Saturday night. May the best man win.” The fact that Helenius has stepped up to fill in for Whyte is nothing but good news to promoter and Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn.
“To get the news (of Whyte’s failed drug test) on Saturday was really disappointing,” he says, “not only for us but for Anthony Joshua and for the fans. But we got to work and we have done what we’re good at – and we have managed to keep the show on. AJ has been unbelievable throughout this whole process.” Although not considered a top operator in the heavyweight division, Finland’s Helenius is nothing if not an entertaining ring practitioner. Indeed, Helenius last fought just a few days ago, stopping Mika Mielonen in three.
With that being said, Helenius was knocked out in the first round last October by former titlist Deontay Wilder. Not that Helenius himself can’t hit. The man’s last six victories have all come in the distance. “I think Robert Helenius is a good fight,” says Hearn. “Yes, he lost to Deontay Wilder but that was by a shot that would have probably knocked out a horse! But he came to fight. He can really punch, he’s 6ft 8in and he won at the weekend. Ultimately there is criticism in whatever you do, but I actually think this is a tricky and dangerous fight.”
Joshua-Helenius is a scheduled twelve round bout which will be broadcast live from London’s O2 arena by DAZN.