Anthony Joshua produced a devastating knockout against Robert Helenius to set up a blockbuster fight with Deontay Wilder.
The Finn, who stepped in on short notice for Dillian Whyte after a failed a drugs test, produced a disciplined display to frustrate ‘AJ’ for several rounds. But Joshua eventually caught Helenius with a clubbing right hand in the seventh round, suddenly ending the fight, sparking celebrations at ringside, including Conor McGregor.
Helenius had previously lost to Wilder, who was left in tears after stopping the 39-year-old in the first round in October. But now the Bronze Bomber is likely the next opponent for the Briton in one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history. The former two-time heavyweight champion could now face Wilder in Saudi Arabia, with negotiations for a January date already underway. Relive all the action, analysis and reaction from Joshua vs Helenius below.
Anthony Joshua reacts to knockout victory and Deontay Wilder fight next
“People need to leave me alone, let me breathe a bit, Helenius, I told him, please come again, he's got talent. He will cause a lot of people problems, credit to him, saving the show. I'll see you again soon, hopefully two more times this year, I need to stay busy.
“My back’s gone, I’m carrying this heavyweight division to the top.”
Anthony Joshua celebrates with Conor McGregor after knocking out Robert Helenius
That was special!
Jab, jab and then the right hand he was searching for.
On the chin, Helenius folded, tumbling down the ropes and the referee didn’t even look to make a count, it was over so quickly.
Joshua celebrates by leaping outside the ring and embracing Conor McGregor.
Joshua delivers devastating knockout in seventh round against Helenius
“It's hard to find the right hand,” Joshua tells James in the corner.
Now into the seventh, Helenius is breathing heavily, this is some effort from the Finn.
WOW, out of nowhere, BOOM!
A knockout, Helenius is out cold, huge knockout from Joshua!
Joshua attracts more whistles from O2 crowd in nervy Helenius fight
A check hook from Helenius lands, Joshua is changing the height of his attack, but while bouncing in, the Finn is timing him nicely.
Now almost at the half-way stage, Joshua is yet to pull off a really eye-catching shot.
More boos from the crowd, Helenius was on the ropes, but Joshua hesitated, he took a small step back even.
Helenius grows in confidence after landing on Joshua in fifth round
Now Helenius is grabbing Joshua, can Joshua ramp up the intensity of this bout in the fifth.
No rush just yet, although as Bellew outlines, some will be getting restless watching this.
Helenius is now sticking his jab into AJ’s face and coming around to the left, whipping in the hook.
A nice left hook from Joshua in response, who has caused a crimson blemish across the Finn’s face, trickling down from his nose.
Joshua trying to close distance in fourth round against Helenius
A fourth round where Joshua aims to lure Helenius into trading, but he’s not yet nibbling.
Joshua again effective with those long jabs, but this is still yet to catch fire.
AJ is winning this fight, that’s for sure, but will he take some risks to really unsettle Helenius.
As AJ moaned to James earlier, it’s the lean from Helenius which is taking the sting out of Joshua’s assaults. His jab is keeping Joshua honest too.
Bellew: “He's got to turn the scew. If Deontay Wilder is fighting, this is not going this long, I want to see him get close and let those combinations go.”
Joshua booed by O2 crowd after tentative third round
These are nice jabs from Joshua, he bends at the waist. Upstairs and downstairs.
But this is all one and two-punch combinations so far. The crowd whistle and boo the action.
Joshua’s left eye is marked up now too, Helenius able to tag him with the jab.
Joshua slowly finding his groove against Helenius in second round of fight
“He's leaning back,” Joshua tells James after round two.
This is a cautious Joshua, which is fine at this early stage.
But we’ll need to see him open up soon and put Helenius away to build the excitement for the Wilder fight.
Joshua looking to set traps for Helenius in round one
It’s a good start from Helenius, who is positive, on the front foot and willing to put punches together.
Joshua penetrating the Finn’s guard with a neat jab, but not exactly opening up just yet.
Both fighters very engaged and looking to counter, this fight is mostly in the centre of the ring.
Joshua ready to battle Helenius in heavyweight clash at O2
The Nordic Nightmare looks to revelling in this moment, what a chance he was given thanks to Dillian Whyte’s failed drugs test.
Joshua, still in his red robe, with new trainer Derrick James, a huge ovation for the two-time world heavyweight champion.
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