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Anthony Joshua floors Robert Helenius in the seventh round

Anthony Joshua knocked out Robert Helenius in the seventh round at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night, staying on track for a future bout with Deontay Wilder.

Joshua had been set to face fellow British heavyweight Dillian Whyte until his rival had to be pulled from the show last weekend when "adverse analytical findings" were detected in his doping test.
Helenius stepped in as a last-minute opponent, but the pre-match focus was on what next for Joshua with talks taking place with Wilder's camp over a fight in the new year.
It would only happen if Joshua could navigate the Finnish veteran and a slow start to proceedings in London saw whistles followed by boos in round three and further jeers occurred at the end of round six.
Joshua was able to provide the crowd with a speculator finish, unleashing a huge right hand to knock Helenius off his feet after one minute and 27 seconds of round seven.
There was brief concern over Helenius, who remained motionless, and it saw Joshua leave the ring to celebrate with the fans, but his opponent was able to get back up to his feet before the two fighters touched gloves.
While Joshua was coy over what next, promotor Eddie Hearn revealed plans to fight Wilder next and current world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury later in 2024.
Hearn said: "It is the fight we want. We have a three-fight plan.
"It was Helenius, first Dillian Whyte and then Helenius, and now Wilder and then Tyson Fury. That is the ambition."
Meanwhile, Joshua responded to his critics during a short interview in the ring.
"I just want to give a big round of applause for Robert Helenius for taking this fight," Joshua started off.
"People need to leave me alone. This is my time in the ring. Let me breath. The guy has got talent, I had to figure him out because he was a late replacement and I want to thank him for saving the show.
"I don't want to say too much. But my back hurts from carrying the heavyweight division."
This was due to be the second instalment of the Joshua's long-standing rivalry with Whyte, but a failed drugs test by the Brixton boxer with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) resulted in Matchroom being left to scramble around for a new opponent seven days out from the fight.
Joshua's promoter Hearn turned to Helenius, who was offered the chance to step in a matter of minutes after he stopped Mika Mielonen last Saturday inside a 15th century Castle in Savonlinna.
After Helenius swapped a family holiday to Lapland for a shot at Joshua, the scrutiny on this fight turned from a domestic dust-up to comparisons with Wilder.
Wilder had taken Helenius out with a vicious first-round stoppage in New York last October, but before any parallels could be drawn, all eyes at O2 Arena were on another experienced boxer in action.
Derek Chisora stepped into the ring for the 47th time as a professional and despite sustaining a cut to his right eyebrow, he battled on to claim victory by unanimous decision over Gerald Washington with judges scoring the 10-rounder 98-93, 97-94, 96-94.
It was 11.16pm by the time Joshua entered the ring with Insomnia by Faithless blaring out of the speakers, but only after almost three minutes worth of a violinist playing.
There would be no round one knock-out like Wilder with Helenius throwing his hands early before he retreated while Joshua worked his right jab.
A similarly tentative second round followed before whistles were replaced by boos as noteworthy action was in short-supply in round three, but Joshua appeared to respond and connected with a left hook before a powerful right hand hit Helenius flush in the face.
Helenius was momentarily rocked and received more punishment early in the fourth when Joshua unleashed a smart combination, but the Nordic Nightmare remained resolute.
A big left upper-cut from Joshua provided some much-needed excitement in round five and it left his opponent with a blooded nose.
Jeers followed after another pedestrian round saw the fight reach its halfway point but the money shot did arrive in round seven.
Joshua was able to throw down a thunderous right punch that wiped Helenius off his feet.
The former Olympian shared a drink with ringside guest Conor McGregor during his lap of honour before Helenius was able to get back on his feet.
While the first six rounds were far from spectacular, the 23rd knock-out of Joshua's career will add to the growing excitement over a potential bout with Wilder.
Wilder, a knock-out artist himself, would be a worthy addition to Joshua's fine CV after securing low-key wins over Jermaine Franklin and now Helenius in 2023.
READ MORE: Robert Helenius gave up family holiday in Lapland to fight Anthony Joshua

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