Former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is set to make a comeback in his hometown of London as he faces Robert Helenius at the 02 Arena on Saturday, August 12th.
Joshua was originally supposed to fight Dillian Whyte, but Whyte was withdrawn from the match due to a failed drug test last weekend. As a result, Robert Helenius (32-4), a Finnish fighter who last contested in the ring just a matter of days ago, has stepped in as a replacement on short notice. The 39-year-old returned to action only last weekend, stopping the previously unbeaten Mika Mielonen in his native Finland in three rounds.
Joshua has had to face late replacements before in his career, he beat Carlos Takam when the Bulgarian stepped in for Kubrat Pulev and lost to Andy Ruiz when he replaced Jarrell Miller after the American failed a drug test.
Given the circumstances, Helenius’s addition to the fight is a good move by Matchroom, adding to the intrigue of what to expect on Saturday night. Nonetheless, the fight’s dynamics are what they are, and it’s important not to exaggerate – Anthony Joshua (25-3) will be the overwhelming favourite, and is priced at 1/16 for victory.
Helenius was last seen by most when he suffered a first-round knockout from Deontay Wilder in October last year. However, it’s worth noting that even accomplished fighters have faced similar outcomes when up against the swift and brutal power of Wilder. In the years leading up to 2020-21, Helenius had faded from the “contender” spotlight, but he managed to revive his career by defeating Adam Kownacki twice during that period. He is 8/1 to pull of what would be one of the biggest sporting upsets of our generation.
Promoter Eddie Hearn asserted that Joshua is in one of the best physical and mental states he’s seen him in, so having a gander at some Joshua knockout markets is probably the most profitable approach to this bout. The London man has won 22 of his 25 fights via knockout, and of those 22 victories, Joshua has ended the fight in the first three rounds on 16 occasions. We’re therefore backing him to achieve exactly that again this Saturday.
Joshua hasn’t had a knockout within three rounds since back in December 2016, so he is due an early night. We feel that Helenius is the perfect opponent to blow away, having been knocked out three times before, including within two minutes in his bout with Wilder. A KO/TKO victory for the Brit provides no value at 1/5, but Joshua is 2/1 to knock down Helenius in any of the first three rounds, whilst he is 8/1 to finish the business in round 4.
Despite the fight being arranged hastily, the upcoming weekend in the capital city holds the promise of an exciting event. With a strong undercard complimenting the bout, it’s still set to be a big evening of heavyweight boxing.