Robert Helenius fights Anthony Joshua Saturday night in England, subbing in for Dillian Whyte, tossed for testing PED positive.
The search for a foe landed on the Finland native Helenius, a 39 year old Swedish native holding a 32-4 record.
Robert Helenius comes in off a win, Saturday night he stopped 6-0 Mika Mielonen in Finland.
So, he was in shape, that helped as he was considered for this immense “the Show Must Go On” assignment, of which promoter Eddie Hearn (and Joshua) are all too brutally familiar with.
Helenius comes in with height, he can look AJ in the eye easily, at 6-6. He’s big, weighs around 250 pounds, and experienced.
“The Nordic Nightmare” debuted as a pro in 2008.
Robert Helenius In, As the Show Had To Go On
They throw down atop a Matchroom card at O2 in London this Saturday August 12, on DAZN.
It was to be PPV, but got downgraded to non PPV because Whyte got bumped.
“This follows the news that the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) informed Matchroom, the Association of Boxing Commissions and the British Boxing Board of Control that Joshua’s original opponent Dillian Whyte had returned adverse analytical findings as part of a random anti-doping protocol,” read news from Matchroom, in a release announcing the substitute foe.
“As a result, their fight was immediately cancelled with a full investigation underway….Fans will be able to claim a refund directly for any pay-per-view pre-orders they had made via DAZN.”
Others Were Considered As Fill Ins
Other fights on the card: IBF Mandatory World Title challenger Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs) versus Australian Dempsey McKean (22-0, 14 KOs), winner gets a shot at Ukraine’s unified World Champion Oleksandr Usyk (who fights Daniel Dubois next).
Eterna vet Derek Chisora (33-12, 23 KOs) fights another oldster, Gerald Washington (20-5-1, 13 KOs), both were considered as subs for Whyte.
“This wasn’t in the script,” said Joshua in the release. “I respect Helenius and may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring.”
Helenius had a recent buzz uptick when he fought and stopped Adam Kownacki, in back to back tests.
He got rewarded with a shot at Deontay Wilder, only to be demolished in round one of their Oct 2022 bout.
“I am excited about fighting Anthony Joshua on August 12,” said Robert Helenius.
“I am a true Viking that is willing to face any challenge at a moment's notice. This is not an opportunity I was going to let slip away. I plan to make the most of it!”
Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn weighed in, putting a promoter-brave face spin on what had to be an unpleasant task. “To get the news on Saturday was really disappointing, not only for us but for Anthony Joshua and for the fans.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn On Whyte Situation
“But we got to work and we have done what we’re good at – and we have managed to keep the show on. AJ has been unbelievable throughout this whole process,” said Eddie Hearn.
“He is someone who is ready to fight having trained for 12 weeks in Dallas with Derrick James. He has always been a great pro but this just shows me again the hunger he has for the sport.
“He wants to go out there this Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at The O2 and perform. There were a lot of options. But we had to make sure it was the right fight for the right deal. I think Robert Helenius is a good fight.
“Yes, he lost to Deontay Wilder but that was by a shot that would have probably knocked out a horse! But he came to fight. He can really punch, he’s 6ft 8in (EDITOR NOTE: Promoter round up alert, LOL) and he won at the weekend.
“Ultimately there is criticism in whatever you do, but I actually think this is a tricky and dangerous fight,” Hearn finished.
MY THREE CENTS: Tricky, shouldn’t be.
Helenius has a punchers’ chance, and AJ isn’t an impregnable force.
This a decent replacement fight for Joshua, arguably Helenius could be harder stylistically for AJ than Whyte.
And, yes, there’s a history of AJ stumbling in this sort of situation. Google “Andy Ruiz” and “Anthony Joshua.”