Tonight at the O2 in London, Anthony Joshua got the job done in style, eventually, as he iced late replacement foe Robert Helenius in the 7th round with a huge right hand. In scoring the KO, AJ ended a knockout drought that has plagued him for almost three years. Joshua put Helenius’ lights out the second the right hand bomb landed, the ending coming at the halfway stage of the round.
Joshua is now 26-3(23), while Helenius, the older man by six years at age 39, falls to 32-5(21). AJ will now fight Deontay Wilder, we think, in the Middle East in January.
Joshua looked good at the end, and the KO he scored will feature very nicely on his highlight reel, but before the ending it was a pretty average showing from Joshua. With some booing to be heard, AJ was adopting the cautious, reluctant to let his hands go approach the critics have been on his back about for some time now. Helenius outjabbed AJ at times, early on in particular, and although Joshua was never hurt in the fight, those critics will not have seen anything to stop moaning about.
Yes, the ending was spectacular, and this is what will be focused on and promoted as we go into the Wilder fight. But Joshua should, the critics will say, have taken far less time to get Helenius out of there than was the case. The brutal KO may well have served to reinstall a good amount of Joshua’s confidence and self-belief, but we must keep in mind that Helenius is a guy Wilder wiped out in a flash, inside the opening round.
Tonight’s performance from AJ probably warrants a B+ rating, the scorching KO adding points to his performance. But AJ will need to start faster and he will need to show more aggression if he is to avoid being taken out quickly by Wilder.
This is how plenty of people feel right now, and maybe you are one of them. Bottom line: Joshua got the win tonight, and he got his first stoppage win since his December 2020 KO over Kubrat Pulev. But was tonight’s display enough to make Wilder and his team worry? It seems not.
It is all too easy to be an ‘armchair critic,’ but the feeling is, the “old” AJ would have taken Helenius out in less than half the time that it took him tonight.
Still, watch the hype machine now get rolling ahead of Joshua Vs. Wilder.