Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Anthony Joshua next fight: Robert Helenius steps in for Dillian Whyte after failed drug test

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Matchroom Boxing was left scrambling for an opponent for Anthony Joshua after Dillian Whyte failed a VADA pre-fight drug test just days before the fight. While there were four heavyweights on the undercard, Matchroom went looking elsewhere and landed Robert Helenius as Joshua’s late-replacement opponent, the promotion announced on Tuesday.

Helenius, 39, had something of a late-career resurgence with a pair of impressive wins over Adam Kownacki in 2020 and 2021. Those wins set him up for a fight against former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder this past October. It took Wilder less than one round to land a bomb of a right hand that knocked Helenius out cold. 

Helenius (32-4, 21 KO) won his comeback fight this past weekend, stopping Mika Mielonen in three rounds. He now makes a very quick turnaround to fight a two-time unified heavyweight champion.

There has been a lot of talk of a fight between Joshua (25-3, 22 KO)  and Wilder, possibly even before the end of the year. A fight with Helenius provides at least something of a measuring stick, with Joshua needing to look impressive against an unprepared version of Helenius after how easily Wilder handled the Finnish heavyweight in their clash.

Joshua is looking for his second consecutive win after dropping the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight championships to Oleksandr Usyk and losing the rematch. He defeated Jermaine Franklin by decision in April to get back on the winning track.

The rest of the card remains unchanged, including the two other heavyweight bouts already scheduled for the undercard: Filip Hrgovic vs. Demsey McKean and Derek Chisora vs. Gerald Washington.

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