BoxingNews

Anthony Joshua's highlight reel KO of Robert Helenius reminded us why he became a national superstar. But did it paper over the cracks of another underwhelming display? And is he really ready to face Deontay Wilder?

The pressure was on Anthony Joshua to make a statement against late replacement Robert Helenius on Saturday night. With one devastating right hand in the seventh round, he did exactly that.

As Joshua strolled over to his corner to celebrate the victory, it was hard not to think back to Joshua’s previous golden nights at the O2 Arena.

It is a venue that Joshua made his home as he started his meteoric rise up the heavyweight rankings. Everyone remembers the vicious uppercut that left Dillian Whyte sprawled out on the canvas. Everyone remembers Joshua shrugging his shoulders after stopping Charles Martin in just two rounds to win his first world title.

At that stage of his career, Joshua combined brute force with a swagger that made it seem like it was all so easy for him. It wasn’t a question of if he would get the stoppage, it was when. And the British public loved it.

Fast forward to Saturday night, and Joshua got another memorable finish. But this one felt different. As good as the ending was, it was hard to erase what had come before it.

Anthony Joshua brutally knocked out Robert Helenius in the seventh round on Saturday

Anthony Joshua brutally knocked out Robert Helenius in the seventh round on Saturday

Joshua celebrated his knockout win in the ring, evoking memories of previous golden nights

Joshua celebrated his knockout win in the ring, evoking memories of previous golden nights

Joshua celebrated his knockout win in the ring, evoking memories of previous golden nights

But his overall performance left something to be desired, with fans booing at certain points

But his overall performance left something to be desired, with fans booing at certain points

But his overall performance left something to be desired, with fans booing at certain points

For six rounds, Joshua struggled to get anything going. He was doing just enough to bank the rounds with his jab, but against a limited opponent like Helenius, the crowd wanted more.

There were boos as early as the third round, and some fans were even heading for the exits when the knockout eventually came.

After the sixth round, Joshua admitted to his corner that he was finding it difficult to bring his right hand into play. To his credit, he stuck with it and that weapon delivered the knockout blow, but why did it take so long to get that shot off?

There was plenty of bravado afterwards as he celebrated with Conor McGregor ringside, but that could not cover up what had been another largely underwhelming performance, following on from his disappointing display against Jermaine Franklin in April.

Once he’d clambered back into the ring, Joshua joked in his post-fight interview that his back was hurting from carrying the heavyweight division

The punchline drew few laughs from the crowd, and it was hard to agree with his assessment either. The 33-year-old fought just once a year in 2020, 2021 and 2022, and has laboured to two wins in 2023. 

The remark appeared to be an unsubtle dig at Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk after they failed to agree to an undisputed clash earlier this year, but Joshua’s last two fights have hardly been must-watch spectacles.

Joshua is widely expected to take on big-punching American Deontay Wilder next at the start of 2024, but bizarrely claimed he wanted to fight twice more before then on Saturday night.

Joshua is expected to fight Deontay Wilder (pictured) next, but bizarrely claimed on Saturday that he wants two more fights before facing the big-punching American

Joshua is expected to fight Deontay Wilder (pictured) next, but bizarrely claimed on Saturday that he wants two more fights before facing the big-punching American

Joshua is expected to fight Deontay Wilder (pictured) next, but bizarrely claimed on Saturday that he wants two more fights before facing the big-punching American

That simply won’t happen. The mega-fight with Wilder, that is set to take place in Saudi Arabia, has too much money involved for Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to risk putting him in with another opponent or two beforehand.

And why would Joshua want to fight someone else ahead of Wilder? 2023 was supposed to be about rebuilding after consecutive losses to Usyk, before testing himself against the elite once more.

Having picked up back-to-back wins, everything has gone to plan results-wise. The next move should be facing Wilder.

Perhaps Joshua isn’t happy with his progress, or lack of, this year. 

He seems hesitant to let his hands go in the ring, and that may be causing doubts in his mind when deciding his next move.

But the Wilder fight is on the verge of being agreed, and if Joshua is uncertain about his future, that is a major concern. He needs to be 100 per cent focused to come out on top in that fight, or things could end very badly for him.

Joshua has looked hesitant to let his hands go in recent fights, and that was case on Saturday

Joshua has looked hesitant to let his hands go in recent fights, and that was case on Saturday

Joshua has looked hesitant to let his hands go in recent fights, and that was case on Saturday

As things stand, Wilder would rightly be seen as the favourite if they face each other. He is the hardest puncher in the sport and has knocked out everyone he has ever faced bar Fury, who he put on the canvas four times in their three meetings.

Fury showed the way to beat Wilder is to take the fight to him, pushing him onto the back foot, but Joshua has not fought that way for years.

If he continues to deploy his recent tactics of waiting for openings and relying on his jab, he is likely to become a sitting duck for Wilder’s right hand. And not many get back up when that lands.

Joshua would need to meet fire with fire at some point, but has been unwilling to do so since he fought Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017. Has he got another performance like that in him? Recent evidence suggests not.

It is getting towards crunch time for Joshua. If he beats Wilder, he is right back in the mix to challenge for world titles. But a loss would leave him potentially considering hanging up his gloves.

He would need to take the fight to Wilder to beat him, like he did against Wladimir Klitschko (right), or he could end up being a sitting duck for Wilder's devastating right hand

He would need to take the fight to Wilder to beat him, like he did against Wladimir Klitschko (right), or he could end up being a sitting duck for Wilder's devastating right hand

He would need to take the fight to Wilder to beat him, like he did against Wladimir Klitschko (right), or he could end up being a sitting duck for Wilder’s devastating right hand

Physically, there have been no signs of deterioration. He is still the muscle-bound, giant heavyweight that burst onto the scene over a decade ago at the 2012 Olympics.

But where is Joshua at mentally? Does he still have the confidence and belief to rise to the top again? 

The verdict is still out after his performance and post-fight comments on Saturday.

The next time we see him in the ring – assuming it’s against Wilder in Saudi Arabia – we should finally get our answers.

Related Articles

Back to top button
Blog - UK Stream TV Pro News - Stream TV Pro World - Stream TV Pro Sports - Stream TV Pro Entertainment - Stream TV Pro Games - Stream TV Pro Real Free Instagram Followers PayPal Gift Card Generator Free Paypal Gift Cards Generator Free Discord Nitro Codes Free Fire Diamond Free Fire Diamonds Generator Clash of Clans Generator Roblox free Robux Free Robux PUBG Mobile Generator Free Robux 8 Ball Pool Brawl Stars Generator Apple Gift Card Best Android Apps, Games, Accessories, and Tips Free V Bucks Generator 2022