Anthony Joshua to fight Robert Helenius as bout is saved after Whyte withdrawal

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    Anthony Joshua believes Robert Helenius will be a ‘check point’ on the road to bigger nights like Deontay Wilder.

    Matchroom have now confirmed Daily Star Sport's story that Joshua will face the Finnish heavyweight this weekend.

    Helenius, 39, steps in for Dillian Whyte after Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) informed Matchroom, the Association of Boxing Commissions and the British Boxing Board of Control that he had “returned adverse analytical findings” as part of a random anti-doping protocol.

    Joshua is hoping to face Wilder early next year in a mega-money clash in Saudi Arabia. But must make sure he does not slip up against late replacement Helenius.

    READ MORE: Gorgeous boxing ring girl labels Anthony Joshua 'husband' after boxer shows off muscles

    He said: “This wasn’t in the script. I respect Helenius and may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring. I am laser focused on the win.

    “I can make steps forward to bigger and better things but the road map has a check point, Saturday night. May the best man win.”

    Helenius returned to the ring last weekend with a win over Mika Mielonen inside three rounds as he got back to action following a brutal knockout defeat by Wilder last year. It was one of Helenius' four career defeats which also include losses against Gerald Washington, Whyte and Johann Duhaupas.

    Now the ‘Nordic Nightmare’ has stepped in with less than a weeks’ notice to face the former world champion.

    The Finn said: "I am excited about fighting Anthony Joshua on August 12. 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!"

    The fight is now part of the DAZN subscription after the Whyte bout was due to be a pay-per-view event so supporters no longer need to cough up extra cash. The O2 has been sold out but fans who have bought tickets will be offered refunds if they don’t want to watch Joshua against Helenius.

    Promoter Eddie Hearn has been scrambling for a replacement opponent since he was informed of Whyte’s tests in the early hours of Saturday morning.

    He said: “To get the news on Saturday was really disappointing, not only for us but for Anthony Joshua and for the fans. 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. 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 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."

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