On a thrilling Saturday night at London’s O2 Arena, Anthony Joshua showcased his prowess with a spectacular seventh-round knockout against Robert Helenius. The victory has set the stage for an eagerly anticipated clash with former world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Joshua (26-3, 23 KOs) started off cautiously, but the fight escalated into a brilliant display of patience and skill. The explosive finish came at the 1-minute, 27-second mark of the seventh round.
During the weekend, representatives from Saudi Arabia visited London to discuss a potential bout between Joshua and Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) in January. Eddie Hearn, the promoter from Matchroom, shared his enthusiasm for the matchup: “That’s the fight we want. We have a three-fight plan: Robert Helenius, Deontay Wilder, and Tyson Fury. That’s the ambition of the team.”
Hearn praised Joshua’s maturity in the ring, highlighting how he calculated his moves against Helenius. “He’s a mature heavyweight now, and against Helenius, he took his time to deliver one of the knockouts of the year. He’s ready now for some marquee fights. He’s smarter now. He’s going to take fewer risks.”
Expressing his readiness for the challenge, Joshua welcomed a potential bout with Wilder, believing it would be a victory for the sport. “Any time’s a good time to fight,” Joshua remarked. “It doesn’t matter who it is. It could’ve been Wilder eight years ago or Wilder now. It is what it is at the end of the day.”
He continued, “There’s no worry to me about when it is. I’m just happy that we can get the fight going, and I think people appreciate that. I’m doing my best to keep heavyweight boxing on the map.”
Helenius (32-5, 21 KOs), a late replacement for Dillian Whyte, took the fight on short notice. Despite the circumstances, Joshua’s victory was significant. It marked his first stoppage since defeating Kubrat Pulev in December 2020, following losses to Oleksandr Usyk and a cautious win over Jermaine Franklin.
After a slow start, Joshua’s energy surged, culminating in a thunderous right-hand knockout that added to his impressive record. Although Joshua, 33, didn’t replicate Wilder’s swift knockout of Helenius last October, he showcased his own unique style.
The O2 Arena’s attendance fell slightly short of capacity due to the opponent change, leading some spectators to express disappointment during the third round. Joshua initially hesitated to engage, with a single right hand being his most notable punch.
As the fight progressed, Joshua grew more confident, delivering powerful punches. A left hook in the fifth round and another left hook later on wobbled Helenius. However, the crowd’s restlessness in the sixth round motivated Joshua to end the contest in the next round with a massive right hand that sent Helenius to the canvas.
In a triumphant moment, Joshua leaped out of the ring to celebrate with his loved ones. The victory not only emphasized Joshua’s skills but also his determination to keep the spirit of heavyweight boxing alive and thriving.