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Anthony Joshua opponent named

Anthony Joshua gets words of advice from Derrick James

Former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 25-3 (22) will indeed fight this weekend after a replacement opponent was named following the scratching of Dillian Whyte 29-3 (19) due to a positive drug test.

Robert ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ Helenius 32-4 (21) will step through the ropes at the O2 Arena in London, England to face Joshua in what will be his second fight within a week.

The 39-year-old Finnish boxer was last in action on Saturday night when he knocked out previously undefeated Mika Mielonen 6-1 (6) in three rounds at the Operastage in Savonlinna, Finland.

England’s Joshua, 33, will be risking a mooted fight against former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42) – who defeated Helenius by first-round knockout last year – in Saudi Arabia in December.

“This wasn’t in the script,” Joshua said. “I respect Helenius and may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring. I am laser focused on the win. I can make steps forward to bigger and better things but the road map has a check point, Saturday night. May the best man win.”

Helenius’ loss to American puncher Wilder came directly after his back-to-back knockout victories over then-highly touted Polish American Adam Kowknacki 20-4 (15).

“I am excited about fighting Anthony Joshua on August 12,” Helenius said. “I am a true Viking that is willing to face any challenge at a moment’s notice. This is not an opportunity I was going to let slip away. I plan to make the most of it.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn has worked feverishly over the past couple of days to secure a viable opponent.

“AJ is desperate to fight. He has looked unbelievable in camp. I have never seen him in such good shape,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said.

“The plan is to get the most credible opponent and someone who can test him for Deontay Wilder.”

Whyte, who has now tested positive to banned substances three separate times in his 12-year pro career, continues to protest his innocence.

“I am shocked and devastated to learn of a report by VADA of adverse findings relating to me,” Whyte said.

“The fight is being cancelled without having any chance to demonstrate my innocence before the decision was taken.

“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.”