Anthony Joshua was unfazed by the criticism and negativity from the crowd at the O2 Arena as he delivered a stunning seventh-round stoppage victory over Robert Helenius, keeping himself on track for a future fight with Deontay Wilder. Originally scheduled to face fellow British heavyweight Dillian Whyte, Joshua’s plans were disrupted when Whyte tested positive for banned substances and had to be pulled from the event. Nevertheless, Helenius stepped in as a last-minute replacement.
The focus leading up to the fight was on Joshua’s next move, with negotiations underway for a potential fight against Wilder early next year. However, in order for that to happen, Joshua had to navigate past Helenius, and the crowd at the O2 Arena made their discontent known during the slow start to the fight. Whistles and boos filled the arena in round three, and further jeers followed at the end of round six.
But Joshua was able to silence the critics and put on a spectacular finish. In the seventh round, he unleashed a powerful right hand that knocked Helenius off his feet after just one minute and 27 seconds. There was a moment of concern as Helenius remained motionless, prompting Joshua to leave the ring to celebrate with the fans. However, his opponent managed to rise to his feet before the two fighters touched gloves again.
While Joshua remained tight-lipped about his future plans, his promoter Eddie Hearn revealed their intention to fight Wilder next, followed by a clash with current world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in 2024. Hearn stated, “It is the fight we want. We have a three-fight plan. It was Helenius, first Dillian Whyte, then Helenius again, and now Wilder, and then Tyson Fury. That is the ambition.”
In a brief interview in the ring, Joshua addressed his critics. He acknowledged Helenius for stepping up and taking the fight, and he called for space and respect in the boxing world. Joshua credited his opponent’s talent and explained the challenge of having to figure him out as a late replacement. He concluded by jokingly remarking, “My back hurts from carrying the heavyweight division.”
Overall, Joshua’s victory against Helenius keeps him on track for a potential blockbuster showdown with Wilder. With his sights set on becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Joshua’s next few fights could define his legacy in the sport.