Anthony Joshua vs Robert Helenius: British boxer triumphs with a devastating one-punch knockout in the seventh round
Anthony Joshua knocked out Robert Helenius in the seventh round, setting up a fight with Deontay Wilder in January.
In a stunning display of power, Anthony Joshua delivered a knockout punch to Robert Helenius in the seventh round of their heavyweight bout at London's O2 Arena. Despite a slow start in the first half of the fight, Joshua's overhand right ended Helenius' night and secured Joshua's first stoppage win in two and a half years. This victory sets the stage for a highly anticipated showdown with American boxer Deontay Wilder in January.
Reflecting on his performance, Joshua acknowledged the unpredictable nature of the sport and emphasized the importance of staying grounded in the industry. He expressed satisfaction with his performance, stating, "I've done my job tonight." When asked about the potential fight with Wilder, Joshua humorously remarked about his back, playfully seeking a doctor in the ring, and expressed his desire to elevate the heavyweight division to new heights.
Following the knockout, Joshua exuded emotion and joy as he climbed out of the ring, exchanging high-fives with fans and sharing a beer with Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor. This victory brings Joshua's record to an impressive 26 wins, including 23 stoppages, and three defeats.
Helenius, who stepped in as a replacement on short notice after Dillian Whyte failed a drug test, suffered his fifth professional defeat in 36 fights. Joshua struggled to find his rhythm throughout the match, but the manner in which he secured the win may serve as a confidence boost and a reminder to other heavyweights that he is far from finished.
Helenius made his way to the ring in a packed arena at a late hour, but the allure of watching Joshua in action ensured that there were no empty seats once the main event began. Joshua confidently entered the ring, accompanied by a violinist playing the iconic theme song from "The Godfather" and the energetic track "Insomnia" by Faithless.
As the fight commenced, Joshua maintained a focused gaze on Helenius, who responded with mocking applause. The opening round saw Helenius throw a wild left, but neither fighter landed any significant blows, resulting in a cautious and tentative start.
Fans grew restless as early as the third round, expressing their dissatisfaction with the lack of action. Boos reverberated throughout the arena, as spectators yearned for the explosive combinations that Joshua is known for. Surprisingly, Joshua had not achieved a knockout in the first half of a fight since his victory over Eric Molina in 2016, a statistic that contrasts with his reputation as a powerful puncher.
In the fourth round, Joshua landed a solid left that forced Helenius to retreat, but he failed to capitalize on the opportunity with a sustained attack. Helenius gained confidence as the match progressed, landing jabs that left their mark on Joshua's face in the fifth round. The crowd's boredom was evident, with more jeers echoing throughout the arena at the halfway point.
Joshua admitted to his trainer, Derrick James, that he was struggling to find the right hand. James encouraged him to persevere, advising him to keep trying. Joshua heeded this advice, and those who left their seats prematurely missed what promoter Eddie Hearn described as the "knockout of the year."
Executing a double feint, Joshua delivered a powerful right hook that sent Helenius crashing to the canvas, prompting referee Victor Loughlin to halt the contest. Representatives from Saudi Arabia were present at the event, eager to finalize negotiations for a highly anticipated Joshua-Wilder mega-fight in the Middle East early next year.
For Joshua, the fight against Helenius was a potential stumbling block that he successfully navigated. Hearn expressed hope that the fight with Wilder would materialize soon, emphasizing Joshua's desire to face formidable opponents and his commitment to British boxing. Hearn believes that if Joshua lands a clean punch on Wilder's chin, the fight will be over, highlighting Joshua's dominance in the ring.
The Joshua-Wilder showdown has been discussed on numerous occasions in the past, particularly when both fighters held all four world titles collectively. However, boxing politics prevented the fight from happening. This time, the allure of a lucrative Middle East showdown is expected to be too enticing for either fighter or their promoters to pass up. The winner of this highly anticipated clash will be propelled back into world-title contention, while the loser will take solace in a career-high purse.
Deontay Wilder, known as one of the most powerful punchers in heavyweight history, presents a formidable challenge for Joshua. Former world champion David Haye emphasized the need for Joshua to approach the fight with Wilder differently, cautioning against relying solely on jabs. Haye believes that Joshua will need to be more aggressive and decisive in order to overcome Wilder's ferocity.
Despite the electrifying finish to his fight with Helenius, there are still lingering questions surrounding Joshua's performance. The cautious approach he adopted against Helenius may not be effective against Wilder, who demands a more assertive strategy. As the boxing world eagerly awaits the Joshua-Wilder showdown, fans and pundits alike are left wondering who will emerge victorious in this clash of heavyweight titans.