British-Nigerian heavyweight boxer, Anthony Joshua announced his return to heavyweight contention Saturday night as he knocked out makeshift opponent, Robert Helenius in the seventh round at the O2 Arena in London.
Helenius had stepped in at short notice – just seven days after having fought and won in Finland – to fight former heavyweight champion Joshua after their original opponent, Dillian Whyte was pulled from the fight after returning an adverse finding in the pre-fight anti-doping protocol.
Helenius started bright, attempting to get Joshua on the back foot by fighting aggressively but Joshua calmly built up his attack with his jabs and waited for his opening which did not come until the seventh round.
The London crowd was getting restless in the third round as boos echoed around the arena with Joshua still refusing to throw any dangerous punches.
Then he silenced the 02 audience with a fast right hand that sent Helenius tumbling after a three-punch combination. Helenius folded, rolling down the ropes and the referee didn’t even look to make a count, it was over so quickly.
At the end of the fight, Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hear said, “The guy is six foot eight, he can punch a bit, AJ doesn’t want to take any chances. This is the AJ you’re going to see now, no chances. There’s a lot on the line. The late replacement was difficult, but I’m just happy he’s delivered the knockout of the year.”
On the possibility of Joshua having a potential big fight with Deontay Wilder, Hearn said they hope it happens and that it was why they wanted the Dillian White’s fight which was to serve as a preparation for the upcoming big fight. According to him, “If he hits Wilder on the chin then it’s over. This is about Anthony Joshua now, it’s not about pleasing others. He’s given everything to British boxing.”
This is now a back-to-back win for Anthony Joshua after his decision victory against Jermaine Franklin in April, earlier in the year.
It’s also Joshua’s 23rd knockout win of his career and his first since stopping Kubrat Pulev in 2020.
Helenius has only lost four times by knockout in a 37-fight career.