Two-time heavyweight champion of the world Anthony Joshua returns this weekend but the whole fight week lies under a cloud of controversy. Originally, ‘AJ’ was slated to face old rival Dillian Whyte until last week when Whyte failed a random drugs test.
To the credit of promoter Eddie Hearn, he was quick to find a replacement and in stepped Robert ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ Helenius.
After two back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk, ‘AJ’ is still on something of a rebuilding mission as he looks to claim a third world title. In his return fight, he laboured to a points decision victory over Jermaine Franklin and it does feel like the pressure is beginning to build on the Londoner to prove he is still capable of competing with the best heavyweights in the world.
The performance against Franklin was criticised and it was largely due to the cautious tactics that Joshua employed. Rather than hunting for a knockout, he was measured and methodical and relied upon a sharp jab to keep himself out of danger. However, Joshua had genuine excuses for the performance. He was returning from humbling defeats and it was also his first twelve round contest under the guidance of new trainer, Derrick James.
With a record of 25-3 (22KO), ‘AJ’ is entering the latter stages of his career but it is too soon to be writing him off. He is a legitimate two-time heavyweight champion and just a couple of wins away from a chance to become ‘three time.’ He may not be as destructive as he once was but Anthony Joshua still has a big part to play in the heavyweight division.
Stepping in at late notice, Robert Helenius 32-4 (21KO) is a dangerous night for any heavyweight. At 39, he is not the fighter he once was but he has only been beaten by quality operators. For the best part of 15 years, Helenius has mixed at the top of the heavyweight division and has notable wins over Adam Kownacki and Erkan Teper.
Although he deserves respect for taking this at late notice, Helenius has always struggled at this sort of level and he looks up against it if Anthony Joshua is at his best. In October 2022, ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ took on a similar task against Deontay Wilder and was brutally stopped inside one round. If Joshua is still as good as he once was, he will need to win in similar style.
There are serious talks that Joshua will fight Wilder in Saudi Arabia in December so a knockout victory will be needed here to build a narrative around that fight. Joshua showed his cautious side against Franklin but you must expect more brutal tactics this time and with that in mind, Anthony Joshua to win in rounds 1-6 seems the sensible bet (4/5).
In the co-main event, two veteran heavyweights clash in the shape of Derek Chisora and Gerald Washington. Both men are way past their best with seventy-two professional fights between them and despite pressure on both men to retire, they are putting it on the line against each other.
The reality is both men are diminished and their skill sets reflect that. In their prime, this would have been a competitive fight but at this point, it could be a case of who lands first. Neither man has ever threatened to be a world champion but at a certain level, they were both competitive and competent fighters.
Derek Chisora is in front of his home crowd in London but he should never be a short favourite (1/6) given the fact he looked so poor last time out against Tyson Fury. It’s impossible to know how much either fighter has left but Gerald Washington is a live underdog at (9/2).
BACK Anthony Joshua to win in rounds 1-6 2pts at 4/5 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Gerald Washington to win 1pt at 9/2 (⭐
CLICK TO BET NOW)
PROFIT/LOSS (AUGUST 2023): PROFIT 1.86 points