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Anthony Joshua gets new opponent for Saturday’s fight

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Anthony Joshua will take on Robert Helenius this weekend at the O2 Arena, with the Finnish heavyweight replacing Dillian Whyte following his failed drugs test.

Whyte was forced to withdraw from Saturday’s fight just seven days before he was due to enter the ring, with the British fighter ruled out of the contest having tested positive for a banned substance. This rules out a highly anticipated rematch between the pair, eight years on from their last meeting at the same venue.

This has led to the 39-year-old Helenius being called up to fight at the last minute, taking on Joshua for the first time having previously fought the likes of Whyte and Tyson Fury. His last fight was a first-round knockout defeat by Deontay Wilder in October 2022 and now faces another huge name in the heavyweight division live on DAZN.

Helenius has long-since been a recognisable name in the heavyweight division, without ever having challenged for a world title, but has now earned a date with one of the biggest names in British boxing on an exciting card. Upon the announcement of the fight, he 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!”

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Joshua is in the process of plotting his path back into world title contention, with a knockout win against Jermaine Franklin at the O2 on April 1st his first step back into the ring following successive defeats to Oleksandr Usyk. “This wasn’t in the script,” said Joshua.

“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.”

-MEN

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Boxing

Anthony Joshua’s opponent, Helenius gets two-year ban

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 Anthony Joshua v Robert Helenius - O2 Arena, London, Britain - August 12, 2023 Robert Helenius in action during his fight against Antonhy Joshua Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge/File Photo

Finland’s Robert Helenius has been banned for two years due to Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) for the presence and use of a prohibited substance for his bout against Britain’s Anthony Joshua in August 2023, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) said on Friday.

Former heavyweight world champion Joshua beat stand-in Helenius with a seventh round single-punch knockout at the London O2 Arena.

But Helenius’s sample from a voluntary drug test the day before the bout tested positive for clomifene, which the Finnish boxer said may have originated from consuming eggs and chicken.

Helenius, now 40, was provisionally suspended and UKAD said he was unable to provide proof that “the eggs and chicken meat he had consumed in advance of the bout originated from hens that had been administered clomifene”.

“Mr Helenius was therefore unable to identify the source of clomifene in his sample and therefore unable to reduce the applicable period of ineligibility of two years,” UKAD added.

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However, UKAD said that since Helenius was provisionally suspended on Sept. 18, 2023, he has already served 10 months of his ban which will expire on Sept. 17, 2025.

-Reuters

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Dubois promises to put an end to Anthony Joshua era

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It promises a tough time for Anthony Joshua if the words of Daniel Dubois are anything to go by, as both will clash in September.

“I’m aiming to be the best. AJ (Joshua) has been the King for a long time but on the night I need to be the ‘King slayer’. That’s the goal, the mission I have,” Dubois said at the news conference on Wednesday.

“I’m ready to let my fists do the talking. I’m 100% ready to go and to train like a beast.”

Dubois has a 21-2 record with 20 knockouts while 34-year-old Joshua’s record is 28-3, including 25 knockouts.

Usyk beat two-times heavyweight champion Joshua twice – first in 2021 to seize the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts and again in 2022 when he defended the belts – but the Briton has won his last four fights.

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“I went out to watch his last fight… Dubois has been on my mind for a while and he will be for the next 12 weeks,” Joshua said.

“Whoever was going to be there, I was ready to fight in September. It just happened to be him.”

When questioned about the age difference, Joshua said: “It don’t matter, we’re in peak condition. Age is just a number.”

Usyk had knocked out Dubois in nine rounds last year in a bout overshadowed by a low blow controversy when the Ukrainian went down gasping for breath after he was hit on the band of his shorts.

“Anthony and Daniel, I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on September 21,” Usyk said on X, opens new tab when he vacated the belt.

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The winner of the bout between Joshua and Dubois could then get a crack at the undisputed champion after Usyk and Fury have their rematch.

The undercard will have five bouts, including two for the IBF super-featherweight title and the WBO interim light-heavyweight title.

“This is probably the most stacked card in British boxing history, certainly in my lifetime, headlined by Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua,” Queensberry promoter Frank Warren said.

“Where better to do it at the national stadium, Wembley?”

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Usyk vacates IBF heavyweight title

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Oleksandr Usyk has vacated the International Boxing Federation (IBF) heavyweight belt, the Ukrainian said on Tuesday, five weeks after becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion.

The announcement comes after Usyk’s mandatory IBF title defence against challenger Croatian Filip Hrgovic was left pending and Daniel Dubois became the new interim IBF heavyweight champion by beating Hrgovic earlier this month.

The 37-year-old Usyk requested not to be stripped of his IBF belt to contest the undisputed champion title when he takes on Fury in their December rematch, where only the WBC, WBO and WBA titles will now be on the line.

The heavyweight IBF title, which Usyk held since 2021, will be up for grabs when Anthony Joshua takes on Dubois in September at Wembley Stadium.

“Anthony and Daniel, I know the IBF title is important to you. It is my present to you on 21 September,” Usyk said in a video message on X.

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Last month Usyk became the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000 as he claimed the WBC title by beating Tyson Fury by a split decision in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Usyk said he may return to the cruiserweight division following his rematch with Fury.

-Reuters

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