bet365's boxing expert Rob Tebbutt provides his tips ahead of Anthony Joshua's heavyweight showdown with Robert Helenius, as well as undercard bouts including Derek Chisora v Gerald Washington.
Anthony Joshua returns this weekend, facing late replacement and heavyweight gatekeeper Robert Helenius at The O2 Arena in London.
Helenius, 39, was drafted in at the eleventh hour after Joshua’s original opponent, Dillian Whyte, returned an adverse analytical finding in his pre-fight VADA test.
With the news of Whyte’s failed test sending shockwaves around the boxing world, Matchroom Boxing - the promoter of the event - scrambled for a late substitute and found one in the shape of ‘The Nordic Nightmare’.
For Joshua, the situation is all-too-familiar, following Jarrell Miller’s positive test(s) and subsequent removal from his proposed bout with ‘AJ’ in June 2019.
However, unlike the portly Andy Ruiz Jr., who stepped in to stun the boxing world with a seventh round stoppage win over a then-unbeaten Joshua, I do not expect Helenius to provide much of a threat on Saturday night.
Despite shaking the cobwebs out this past weekend with a third round stoppage win over Mika Mielonen in Finland, Helenius is less than one year removed from a crushing first round knockout loss to Deontay Wilder - and enters the ring this weekend a heavy underdog.
I expect Joshua to win and win inside the distance, but I do expect Helenius to go longer than he did against Wilder last October. The giant Finn is as experienced as they come, having shared the ring with a “who’s who” of heavyweights over the last decade, both in the ring and in sparring.
In fact, Helenius has been a part of Joshua’s camp on several occasions previously. In boxing, familiarity doesn’t always lend itself to an explosive encounter!
Look for Joshua to feel his way into things in the opening exchanges; negating the awkward, well-schooled Helenius early on before breaking him down somewhere in the middle rounds to win by stoppage.
Joshua is not known to be a concussive, seek-and-destroy KO artist a la Wilder, so the price of 7/4 for Joshua to win between rounds 5-8 is attractive.
I also quite like the look of Joshua to win between rounds 7-12 at 12/5. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be more surprised at the fight going into rounds 11 and 12 than I would by Joshua winning early, but the more considered, patient and, according to some opinions ‘gun-shy’ version of Anthony Joshua should lend itself to a fight that goes a few.
For those who want to watch the world burn… if we are going to have a repeat of that night at Madison Square Garden in June 2019, you can get a massive 9/1 on Helenius by any method, or 12/1 on him to win by stoppage. Personally, I can’t see either of those outcomes, but stranger things have happened in boxing…
For me, however, I can’t look past Joshua by stoppage. For the short odds players, ‘AJ’ to win by ‘Technical Knockout’ at 4/9 is a solid price and one to consider for your accumulators.
Remember, a ‘Technical Knockout’ can be anything from a referee stoppage, a corner stoppage, the towel coming in or the fight being stopped due to cuts.
Fight Result: Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua to score 3 or more knockdowns
Under 8.5 Rounds
Was 9/2 >> Now 5/1
Anthony Joshua by Unanimous Decision
No knockdowns in the fight
Was 18/1 >> Now 20/1
Round Group Betting (1):
Anthony Joshua by Decision or Technical Decision
Was 9/2 >>
This Saturday’s Joshua vs Helenius card is stacked with heavyweight hopefuls ranging from area title fights to mandatory challengers - and everything in between!
Firstly, we see the return of unbeaten Croatian danger man Filip Hrgovic as he squares off against Australia’s Demsey McKean over twelve rounds.
Hrgovic, who was last seen in action with a narrow points win over Zhilei Zhang back in August 2022, is the current IBF mandatory challenger and will secure a shot at the heavyweight title with a win over the unbeaten, yet untested, McKean.
Personally, I don’t see the fight being particularly competitive. Hrgovic, while criticised for his performance in what some felt was a fortunate win over Zhang, remains one of the biggest punchers in the division and, having been a top-class amateur, is the far more seasoned operator in this one.
McKean is an uncomplicated southpaw who leaves plenty of gaps and makes plenty of mistakes - a recipe for disaster against a fighter in Hrgovic who carries vicious KO power in that right hand.
Look for Hrgovic to get the job done inside the distance (1/2) and potentially early. I like the look of 13/8 for Hrgović to win inside six rounds, with 15/4 for him to get the job done inside four another appealing price.
However, the most value I think is on Hrgovic by KO/TKO at 1/2. It’s a shorter price than I’d usually like to tip, but I struggle to see how the over-matched McKean lasts the distance.
It’s difficult to make a case for McKean to win (outside of “anything can happen in heavyweight boxing”), but if you fancy a punt on the underdog then McKean by KO/TKO at is where I’d put my money - but, again, it’s not something I can see happening.
Next up on Saturday night, it's the latest episode in the long and storied soap opera that is Derek Chisora.
The Finchley fan favourite makes his 47th ring appearance and is a sizeable favourite to claim the 34th win of his career against American gatekeeper Gerald Washington.
Despite Chisora looking less-than-stellar in his pummelling loss to Tyson Fury in December, he still shows no signs of looking for the exit door and I expect him to get the job done against Washington on Saturday night.
Washington, once considered a contender, has lost five of his last seven bouts - all by stoppage - and at the ripe old age of 41, looks like he is at the very last knockings of his professional career. He has also been inactive since a stoppage loss to Ali Eren Demirezen in January 2022.
In short, there isn’t much going for Washington here and unless Chisora is completely shot-to-pieces, I can’t see Washington upsetting the apple cart.
I like Chisora to win by KO/TKO at 2/5, but will also be looking at the early rounds. Chisora in Rounds 1-2 and 3-4 are priced at 9/1 and 5/1 respectively, and that’s where I expect a fresh(ish) Chisora to be at his most effective. Outside of that, I like the look of the fight going under 6.5 Rounds at 5/6.
In years gone by, Washington would have had enough to frustrate Chisora early on, with his jab and natural size providing a tough test, but I feel that this version - a 41-year-old, inactive version - may not carry the same threat.
I’m going with ‘War’ Chisora by early stoppage.
Fight Outcome: Derek Chisora by KO, TKO or Disqualification
Over 6.5 Rounds
Was 3/1 >> Now 13/4
Round Group Betting (2):
Derek Chisora to win in rounds 3-4
Was 5/1 >>
Heavyweight fan favourite Johnny Fisher goes for his first professional title against Harry Armstrong, and it’s a fight that I believe is the best-matched bout on the card.
Fisher, who has garnered a huge following out of his Romford support base, has shown a lot of natural athleticism in his nine-fight career. However, by his own admission, ‘The Romford Bull’ is still learning the basics and fundamentals of the sport, after turning pro with limited amateur experience.
I think Armstrong will provide a stern examination for Fisher at this stage of his career, with ‘Dirty Harry’ having boxed to a good standard in the unpaid ranks and shared the ring with some of the best heavyweights on the domestic circuit.
I was ringside for Armstrong’s last fight, a decision loss to another unbeaten heavyweight prospect in Jeamie TKV, and he showed he has the ability to not only ‘tough it out’ and do the rounds, but also with a fair degree of skill.
I’m expecting Armstrong to be very competitive against Fisher, utilising his superior experience and schooling to give the 24-year-old plenty to think about. I do expect Fisher to emerge victorious, but this marks a significant step up in opposition for him and I feel he’ll have to work for it.
Johnny Fisher to win a decision at BOOSTED odds of 13/4 might be my bet of the weekend.
Fisher has been guilty of just getting a little too excited at times in his career, and I think while his youthful exuberance will be enough to get him over the line, he will have some sticky moments where he finds it difficult to land clean on Armstrong, and will be taken the full ten rounds by the more experienced man.
I think a stoppage win for Fisher, priced at 2/7, doesn’t represent any real value. I would be very surprised - and impressed - to see him get Armstrong out of there before the final bell.
For the underdog, you can get 10/1 on Armstrong by any method, which I do feel is a little too wide when considering their respective experience and skill levels. It’s a closer fight than that, in my opinion, and therefore is encouraging for Armstrong backers.
Odds and Bet Boosts >> within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to fluctuation or withdrawal.