Anthony Joshua says he has already shifted his focus to facing Robert Helenius on Saturday night but is disappointed he will not get the chance to ‘straighten a few things out’ with Dillian Whyte.
Former heavyweight world champion Joshua was due to face off against his old rival at London’s O2 Arena but the bout was thrown into chaos after Whyte failed a voluntary drugs test.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that the 39-year-old Helenius would step in at less than a week’s notice, having only just fought on Saturday against compatriot Mika Mielonen – a bout he won to bounce back from his first-round KO against Deontay Wilder last year.
Joshua, who did not initially react to the cancellation of his fight with Whyte, says he was looking forward to the rematch but is not dwelling on the setback and will not take his eye off the ball against Helenius.
‘I have always been told to expect the unexpected — and Saturday night is just that,’ wrote Joshua in his pre-fight column for the Evening Standard.
‘This fight is not the one I expected next for me, and I’m sure that is the same for anyone else that will be inside the O2 or watching on TV. I fully anticipated doing my ring walk with the prospect of Dillian Whyte being the man standing in there waiting for me.
‘That’s not the case, but that’s boxing, things change. I’m not here to talk about the rights or wrongs of his adverse analytical finding.
‘All I can really say is that I was looking forward to facing him. We’ve fought once before and he’s had a fair bit to say about me since my last fight. I felt ready to put a few things straight.
‘But that’s boxing and, instead of Whyte, I’ve got a completely different opponent waiting for me in Robert Helenius.
‘Sure, he got undone by Deontay Wilder inside a single round not so long ago, but that’s the heavyweight division — one punch and you can be done for. Believe me, I’ve been there and experienced it… on both sides.
‘But among others, he has taken Whyte the distance and all credit to him for being the man to step up to face me on Saturday night.
‘Boxing is about respect and I always respect every single fighter that dares to step into the ring with me. And you have to remember it takes just one moment to end a fight or for it to be ended for you.
‘Of course, you approach things a little differently depending on who you are facing but, when you strip it down to the same basics, the reality is I have to win on Saturday night and I’m still laser focused on getting that win. All the other noise that’s gone on around that these past few days is totally immaterial.’
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