Anthony Joshua continued his bid to become a three-time world heavyweight champion with a seventh-round knockout win over late replacement Robert Helenius at the 02 Arena in London on Saturday night.
Joshua had been set to face old rival Dillian Whyte, who he stopped in the seventh round in their first meeting back in 2015, with Finland’s Helenius selected to replace Whyte at short notice.
Only a win would do for Joshua as he builds towards a huge showdown with fellow former world champion Deontay Wilder, and the Briton did manage to secure a stunning stoppage in the middle rounds.
Helenius has never fought for a world title but the former European champion does have a few big names on his CV.
'The Nordic Nightmare' has a win over Chisora on his record and went the full distance with Whyte back in 2019, losing via a unanimous decision.
However, Helenius had lost two of his last six fights prior to Saturday’s match-up with Joshua and both of those were stoppage defeats.
Washington stopped him in the eighth round in 2019 and Wilder made a huge comeback statement of his own against the Finn in October last year.
‘The Bronze Bomber’ came up against Helenius in his first outing since losing his WBC title to Tyson Fury and managed to secure a sensational first-round knockout.
Wilder’s win over Helenius set a bit of a benchmark for Joshua, but the Briton made a slow start and the fans at the 02 began to become restless.
Neither fighter managed to land anything of note in the first round and the second also came and went without incident.
Boos could be heard coming from the crowd during the third round as ‘AJ’ continued with his tentative approach and he did land a decent shot in the fourth, but was unable to follow that up with anything meaningful.
Helenius grew into the fight and probably won the fifth round behind his jab, but Joshua never appeared to be in any trouble.
The contest was fairly uneventful until Joshua’s sensational KO in the seventh round, which could be a contender for knockout of the year.
The 33-year-old created an opening with a double feint and then landed a devastating right that sent Helenius to the canvas, ending the fight.
Joshua's proposed showdown with Wilder has yet to officially be confirmed but an announcement may be made in the coming days after his win over Helenius.
The two former champions are expected to meet in Saudi Arabia in either December or the early stages of next year.
"We hope it's imminent [an agreement to face Wilder]," Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said after the win over Helenius, as reported by the BBC.
"That's why he wanted the Dillian Whyte fight, it's hard for him to get up to fights like this.
"If he hits Wilder on the chin then it's over. This is about Anthony Joshua now, it's not about pleasing others. He's given everything to British boxing."
Joshua vs Wilder would be a huge draw given that both are former world champions and both have impressive knockout records.
However, that contest won’t be for a world title as neither currently hold any of the belts.
The winner of that clash should be next in line to face either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk, or potentially even for the chance to become the unified heavyweight world champion if Fury and Usyk themselves are able to agree to a huge showdown.
If Joshua beats Wilder, he could well get a shot at Fury or perhaps a third meeting with Usyk but first he has to overcome the American - who has only lost to Fury so far.
If Joshua does lose to Wilder, there is still a chance he could end up in a ring with Fury further on in their careers, but whether or not he would ever get another chance to challenge for a world title would be less clear as defeat to Wilder would push him right down the pecking order.