The Joshua-Helenius fight card is days away, and the ‘Nordic Nightmare' Robert Helenius locked eyes with foe Anthony Joshua at a Wednesday presser to hype the scrap at the 02 in London on Saturday.
Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman, explained that, yes, things have changed, Dillian Whyte is out, but the drama is still there, the Viking pugilist has a crack at a showy upset.
“It's a night of Heavy Duty action at The O2 in London, with Anthony Joshua now facing ‘The Nordic Nightmare', 6ft 9in Robert Helenius as ‘AJ' looks to move on to some of the biggest fights in the division, and the undercard is stacked with some of the biggest, baddest and best Heavyweights in the world, along with some of our youngest talent,” said Hearn of the Saturday Joshua-Helenius fight card.
Difficult Days Came Before Joshua-Helenius Fight Card
“We know the issues of the last few days, and it's never easy to think on your feet and adapt, but the instruction from Anthony Joshua was clear, ‘I'm ready to fight, and I want to fight on Saturday.'
Hearn continued: “We have to thank our broadcast partner DAZN. The great news for subscribers that this is no longer Pay-Per-View – unbelievable value for fight fans to be able to watch ‘AJ' in a big fight with a great undercard, so thank you to them for their support as we have not only ‘AJ' that wanted to fight on Saturday, but all these undercard fighters that have had long training camps too, and as we all know, you only get paid when you fight.
“It's been a challenging few days,” Hearn noted. and I want to thank ‘AJ', who stayed focused after putting 12 weeks of hard work into his camp and was desperate to fight on Saturday night and showcase the hard work that took place, and Robert Helenius, who accepted the challenge and has a good team of people around him we knew wouldn't mess around, and we knew he was fit and had just boxed. This is an important fight at The O2.”
Anthony Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) faces Robert Helenius over 12 rounds at heavyweight:
“I looked at the undercard, and I know how important it is for them to compete. I know how hard you (Eddie Hearn) worked, and all the Matchroom staff, my coach, DAZN, so it's a responsibility I have,” said AJ.
He summed up the Joshua-Helenius fight card nicely: “Late replacements aren't ideal, but it's the third time it's happened. A long career will present these types of obstacles, and I've just got to get used to them, it's just another rock in my shoe to the top of the mountain.
“The principles remain the same. Worry about myself. Robert and I sparred years ago, we shared the ring, but I've sparred with so many styles, competed with so many styles, the objective remains the same – victory, and victory by any means. There's no overtime in boxing, so I have to be on my A-game and inflict pain to get the victory.
“Coming off the back of Covid, everyone suffered during that period. The sports industry slowed down, and now we want to regain momentum,” Joshua continued.
AJ Speaks Days Out From Joshua-Helenius Fight Card
“As Derrick said, I came out to camp early this year, I took a couple of weeks, maybe a month back in the UK, then went to Dallas to try to progress on. So, my goal was to fight as many times as possible. Like Robert, he fought on Saturday. You have to stay active, keep expressing your skill, as that's the only way to improve.
” I fought in April, but I've spent a lot of time in the ring in the gym as we do a lot of ring work in Dallas, and that's the closest thing to a fight. It's not just hitting the bags and mitts. There's a lot of combat training, so I am physically ready.
“It would be silly to underestimate him or anyone. I have to take him deadly serious and credit to him, he's coming to roll the dice, he wants to win.
“Other heavyweights that were mentioned, finance is an issue – risk versus reward, but in reality, that's not all there is for him, so good luck to him, and shout out to everyone in Finland. I've been there before, and we're looking to provide some good entertainment from top to bottom as the card is unbelievable.
“The Joshua-Helenius fight card is phenomenal. It's the old days at the O2 and this is what we want to bring. It's entertainment. It's not, ‘I'm coming out to watch Anthony Joshua.' No, it's ‘I'm coming out to watch a Matchroom show, a great night of boxing., so credit to everyone involved in this.”
Derrick James, trainer of Anthony Joshua:
“You have to move forward. Now it is all about Robert who is a pretty good fighter, you will see everything ‘AJ' has been able to work on throughout camp and implement it into his game.
“We have had a little more time this time. It's all about the process, he's brought into that process and he's getting better and better.
“The only difference from Dillian to Robert is you have to change the trajectory of the punches, one shorter and lower, now higher because he's 6 foot 9. But it's good, he'll be able to show his transition from fighting one guy to a week later another guy, so we will see.”
Robert Helenius (32-4, 21 KOs) fights Anthony Joshua over 12 rounds at heavyweight):
“Thank you for giving me this opportunity. This fight offer came to me after my fight at the weekend. I was going on vacation with my family but not anymore, here we are. We had a good camp behind us, and we feel ready. I am ready to fight, otherwise I wouldn't be here,” said the fighter three days before the Joshua-Helenius fight card. “I respect him, he's a good fighter. It's going to be glorious. I've been chasing the World Title for 15 years and when you get this big of an opportunity you can't let it slip and I will give everything to win this fight.”
Markus Sundman, manager of Robert Helenius:
“Massive opportunity, when do you get a call this close to a fight night and you come off a camp and you are in shape. Everything has fallen into place. Victory would mean everything.”
Alfie Sharman, VP DAZN, regarding the Joshua-Helenius fight card.
“We were obviously disappointed with the news but we move, and here we are in London with an AJ fight week, and everybody knows with an ‘AJ' fight week it's a huge event.
“We want to thank our great partners ‘AJ', Freddie Cunningham, and everyone at 258, Eddie, Frank, and Matchroom, and the teams at DAZN working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the event goes ahead. Robert is a tough opponent; he's been in with the best and he's here to spoil the party.
“The O2 will be full on Saturday, the Joshua-Helenius fight card undercard is incredibly strong, and this night is part of the DAZN subscription and there's much more to come, make sure you tune in on Saturday live on DAZN.”