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Anthony Joshua back to winning ways with a seventh round knockout of Helenius

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Anthony Joshua v Robert Helenius - O2 Arena, London, Britain - August 12, 2023 Antonhy Joshua knocks down Robert Helenius Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua beat Finnish stand-in Robert Helenius with a seventh round single-punch knockout on Saturday to keep himself on track for a lucrative payday against American Deontay Wilder next year.

Helenius, stepping in after Britain’s Dillian Whyte was ruled out of the non-title fight by a dope test a week ago, lasted longer than expected but crashed to the canvas one minute and 27 seconds into the round.

Some of the crowd at London’s 02, who had grown restless with some booing already in the third round, were heading for the exit by then as Joshua failed to deliver immediate fireworks.

The big Briton looked nervous and stiff at the start and strangely tentative when Helenius, who fought in Finland only a week ago, appeared to be out on his legs and ready for the taking.

Joshua climbed straight out of the ring without saying a word after referee Victor Loughlin stopped the contest.

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He then fist-bumped fans, stopping to share a swig of a drink with watching former UFC champion Conor McGregor, before stepping back inside the ropes.

Helenius meanwhile received medical attention and some oxygen before getting back on his feet.

“I knew this would happen, everyone’s talking about the new AJ and the old AJ and after two or three rounds the crowd starts to get a little bit impatient,” Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn told the BBC.

“He finds the measure of his right hand and he delivers one of the knockouts of the year on Robert Helenius… this is just the AJ you’re going to see now.

“He’s still got to be more aggressive than we saw tonight but there’s a lot on the line.”

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The knockout was the 23rd of Joshua’s career, taking his record to 26 wins and three defeats, but his first since December 2020 when he beat Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in a WBA, IBO, IBF and WBO title defence in London.

Joshua lost those belts to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021.

There has been talk of Joshua fighting Wilder, the former WBC champion, next year but the Briton needs to keep winning to be talked about in the same breath as the American and reigning champion Tyson Fury.

“It’s hard for him to get up for fights like this,” said Hearn. “The Wilder fights, the Fury fights, that’s what he wants.”

-Reuters

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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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Usyk considering stepping down to cruiserweight after Fury rematch

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Undisputed heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk said he may return to the cruiserweight division following his rematch with British heavyweight Tyson Fury later this year.

Usyk – now the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO champion – defeated Fury by split decision in a thrilling contest at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh to become undisputed heavyweight champion.

The Ukrainian was previously the undisputed cruiserweight champion before moving up to heavyweight in 2019.

“I think maybe after the rematch, I am going to go down in weight to cruiserweight. I want more cruiserweight,” Usyk said in an episode of the ‘3 Knockdown Rule’ podcast released on Wednesday.

“Maybe I can be undisputed for a second time in the cruiserweight division, it’s my plan. When I start to prepare for my training camp (as a heavyweight), I have to eat all the time. For me it’s hard, I don’t like it.”

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Usyk, 37, is the first undisputed heavyweight champion since the end of Lennox Lewis’ reign in April 2000. He will face Fury in a rematch on Dec. 21 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. REUTERS

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Usyk-Fury heavyweight rematch set for Dec. 21 in Saudi Arabia

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The heavyweight rematch between undisputed world champion Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury will take place on Dec. 21 in Saudi Arabia, according to the advisor who organizes boxing events in the kingdom.

Turki Alalshikh, chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, confirmed the date of the fight on X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday. He said it will take place in Riyadh, the location of the first fight on May 19.

“The world will watch another historical fight again,” he wrote. “Our commitment to boxing fans continues … We hope you enjoy it.”

Usyk became the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 2000 when he defeated Fury by split decision, earning a narrow win on two scorecards. The 37-year-old Ukrainian is the first heavyweight to hold every major title belt since Lennox Lewis.

It was Fury’s first loss as a professional.

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-AP

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Boxing

Furious Fury to clash again with Usyk in October

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All hope is not lost for Tyson Fury who lost his WBC heavyweight championship belt to Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia early this Sunday morning.

Both boxer had agreed before the unification bout that the loser of their fight would be eligible to trigger a rematch.

Owing to the two-way rematch clause, there will be a second showdown. As for a date, nothing is set in stone. The hopeful Saudi boxing chief Turki Alalshikh confirmed that a rematch is likely to go ahead on 12th/13th October 2024, not taking into account exceptional circumstances such as injuries or unforeseen events.

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