Robert Helenius hopes to get one step closer to his dream of becoming world champion by causing a HUGE upset and beating Anthony Joshua – after the ‘Nordic Nightmare’ answered the call to replace Dillian Whyte
- Anthony Joshua will make his return to the ring against veteran Robert Helenius
- The 39-year-old has stepped in at the last minute to replace Dillian Whyte
- Helenius believes a win could get him back in the world title picture
The Nordic Nightmare is more a big huggy bear as he lolls in his chair and talks matter-of-factly about knocking the stuffing out of Anthony Joshua‘s career tomorrow night.
Robert Helenius battered a virtual nobody to third round defeat in a Finnish castle last Saturday, so casually declares himself fit and ready to do the same to Britain’s former two-time world heavyweight champion in the 02 seven days later.
A flight of fancy for this ambling giant who is in his 40th year? A veteran who has been ‘dreaming of becoming a world champion for the last 15 years.’ Thus far in vain.
Nor can that happen this weekend since Joshua has already lost his titles to Olexsandr Usyk.
Still, he expects upsetting AJ to be the taking of a long stride in that direction. Which is why he accepted Eddie Hearn’s offer to substitute for the drugs-tested Dillian Whyte before he reached the shower in the castle.
39-year-old Finnish fighter Helenius has agreed to Joshua’s demands for additional testing
Heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Robert Helenius face off in London on Wednesday
Eddie Hearn was quick to wheel in Helenius as a new opponent for Joshua in his upcoming bout
‘I was thinking only about going on holiday with my family as I took the gloves off on Saturday,’ Helenius recalled after landing in London.
‘When we were unwrapping my hands in the dressing room my manager told me he had a good deal for me to fight Joshua instead of hunting, shooting, fishing and camping in Lapland.
‘I didn’t answer for about ten minutes. I was thinking I need time with my kids after two months in training camp. Then I sent a video to Hearn from the dressing room saying ”Yeah let’s do this.”That decision was driven in part by his suspicion that Joshua ‘is no longer the champion he was.
‘Certainly. he is boxing differently to when he was young and hungry and later when he had the confidence that comes with being champion.’
But Helenius believes he sees an undercurrent in Joshua which runs to his advantage: ‘We sparred a lot six years ago when he was training to fight (Wladimir) Klitschko.
We did eight-round sessions. He is a big hitter but I think I hurt him sometimes. It was close. He is a tough guy with good technical skills if maybe a bit robotic.
Joshua (left) had been training to fight Whyte, but their bout was cancelled after Whyte’s pre-fight drugs test returned an adverse analytical finding
‘I was thinking about retiring after (Deontay) Wilder knocked me out first round last October. But I came out of my depression last weekend, ready to see that with the style Joshua is boxing now this is the best time for me to beat him.
‘There is a vulnerability about him since he was knocked out by (Andy) Ruiz and lost his belts to Usyk.
‘And no, this is not the most dangerous fight of my life. Not as dangerous as Wilder. And he’s not like sparring both the Klitschkos, Wilder and Tyson Fury.. I do expect to knock him out.’
If he is right, he will confound Hearn’s calculation that Helenius, at a Fury-equalling 6ft 9in, will be a sufficiently imposing ring presence in the 02 and on television to pacify customers who suspect he has been brought in as a minimal threat to Joshua’s proposed mega-bucks clash with Wilder in Saudi Arabia come January.
‘Don’t worry.’ Helenius tells the fans. ‘I’m here to win.’
Joshua v Helenius will be televised live this Saturday night on DAZN, by regular subscription.