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Anthony Joshua to face Robert Helenius at O2 Arena after Whyte cancellation

Robert Helenius has been named as Anthony Joshua's replacement opponent for Saturday night's heavyweight clash at London's O2 Arena.  

The Finnish fighter, who fought just three days ago agreed to step in at the 11th hour to replace Dillian Whyte after 'Bodysnatcher' returned 'adverse analytical findings' in a preĺ-fight drugs test.

'I am a true Viking that is willing to face any challenge at a moment's notice,' the 39-year-old Helenius said.

'This is not an opportunity I was going to let slip away. I plan to make the most of it.'

'This wasn't in the script,' Joshua said of his new opponent. 'I am laser-focused on the win. I can make steps forward to bigger and better things but the roadmap has a checkpoint - Saturday night.'

Helenius fought just three days ago. He won by third-round TKO win over Mika Mielonen and the 6ft 6in heavyweight has a record of 32 wins with defeats to Gerald Washington, Whyte and Johann Duhaupas, and Deontay Wilder.

Hearn, revealing the news on talkSport, said the fight would not take place on pay-per-view on streaming platform DAZN, with fans able to watch as regular subscribers. 

 The promoter insisted Joshua was in for a 'dangerous' fight despite Helenius' recent stoppage defeats. 

'We saw him batter Adam Kownacki [in 2020 and 2021], he lost to Deontay Wilder, he got knocked out by a shot that would have knocked out a horse and he came to fight - that's the reason he got knocked out in that fight. He can punch, he's 6 ft 8. He won at the weekend, sent me a message from the changing room. 

'I think it's a tricky fight, it's quite a dangerous fight.' 

Whyte served a two-year ban after testing positive for the banned stimulant Methylhexanamine following a win over Hungary’s Sandor Balogh in October 2012.

In 2019 he was charged by UK Anti-Doping after a sample provided in June that year showed the presence of two metabolites of a banned steroid Dianabol. The charge was withdrawn due to the ‘extremely low’ levels of the metabolites.

The most recent test was performed by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), who informed Matchroom about the positive result for a banned substance, the identity of which was not initially made public. 

At the time Whyte said: 'I can confirm without a shadow of doubt that I have not taken the reported substance in this camp or at any point in my life.

‘I am completely innocent and ask to be given the time to go through the process of proving this without anybody jumping to conclusions or a trial by media. 

'I insisted on 24/7 VADA testing for this fight, as I have done voluntarily and at my own expense for all of my fights for many, many years 

‘This is not the first time that I have been reported as having an adverse finding for a substance which I have not taken, and as I did last time I will again prove that I am completely innocent.’

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