Former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua returned to his knockout form in emphatic fashion on Saturday night, beating Robert Helenius in the seventh round to end a three-year drought.
This is Joshua’s first knockout win in three years, since he defeated Kubrat Pulev on December 12, 2020.
Joshua was originally set for his third clash with Whyte at the O2 Arena, having lost to his fellow Briton as an amateur before knocking him out in 2015.
However, Whyte returned an adverse finding in a drug test last week, leading him to be pulled from tonight’s main event. Helenius stepped in, just seven days after having fought and won in Finland.
Helenius tried to put Joshua on the back foot by fighting aggressively, but Joshua calmly built up his attack with jabs and waited for his opening, which came in the seventh round.
In the third round, the London crowd became restless as boos echoed around the arena, despite Joshua’s refusal to throw any dangerous punches.
Then, after a three-punch combination, he silenced the 02 audience with a fast right hand that sent Helenius tumbling.
Helenius rolled down the ropes and the referee didn’t even look to make a count because it was over so quickly.
Joshua jumped outside the ring and embraced former UFC champion Conor McGregor as he celebrated his victory.
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This is a huge victory for Joshua, who was urged to be more aggressive after his last three fights went the distance as fans yearned to see his knockout power.
Despite the fact that Deontay Wilder knocked Helenius out in the first round, Joshua will take heart from this result ahead of a potential fight with the former WBC heavyweight champion.