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Anthony Joshua looking to put the last week behind him ahead of O2 fight on Saturday

Anthony Joshua and Robert Helenius. Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Anthony Joshua 25-3 (22) has been through a rough patch.

The former two-time unified heavyweight champion lost his WBA, WBO and IBF titles to uber-talented Ukrainian southpaw and former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 20-0 (13) by unanimous decision in September 2021 and fared only slightly better in their immediate rematch almost a year later when he was on the wrong end of a split decision with new trainer Robert Garcia in his corner.

Garcia lasted just one fight. The 33-year-old Brit switched coaches again, teaming up with another American guru of the fight game in Derrick James, who also trains undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo and former WBC, WBA and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.

Joshua got back in the winner’s circle with a 118-111 and 117-111 twice unanimous decision victory over fringe contender Jermaine Franklin 22-2 (14) in April under the tutelage of James.

The plan after that was to have one more hit out ahead of a showdown with former WBC champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42) in Saudi Arabia in January.

Those plan were put into disarray when original opponent Dillian Whyte 29-3 (19) failed a VADA drug test ahead of their planned fight at he O2 Arena in London, England on Saturday night.

Fortunately Finland’s Robert ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ Helenius 32-4 (21) stepped in to save the show.

“You have to move forward. Now it is all about Robert who is a pretty good fighter, you will see everything ‘AJ’ has been able to work on throughout camp and implement it into his game,” James said.

“We have had a little more time this time. It’s all about the process, he’s brought into that process and he’s getting better and better.

“The only difference from Dillian to Robert is you have to change the trajectory of the punches, one shorter and lower, now higher because he’s 6ft 9in. But it’s good, he’ll be able to show his transition from fighting one guy to a week later another guy, so we will see.”

Helenius, 39, was in the prise ring just one week ago when he cruised through Mika Mielonen 6-1 (6) in three one-sided frames last Saturday night.

Markus Sundman, manager of Helenius, said it was a gig too hard to refuse.

“Massive opportunity, when do you get a call this close to a fight night and you come off a camp and you are in shape, everything has fallen into place,” Sundman said. “Victory would mean everything.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing added: “We know the issues of the last few days and it’s never easy to think on your feet and adapt, but the instruction from Anthony Joshua was clear, ‘I’m ready to fight and I want to fight on Saturday.’”

The fight will be broadcast live and free on streaming service  DAZN.