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Failure is not an option for Anthony Joshua

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

Former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 25-3 (22) cannot afford to lose when he takes on Robert ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ Helenius 32-4 (21) at the O2 Arena in London, England on Saturday night.

With a bout against former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 43-2-1 (42) in the offing in Saudi Arabia in January, coming off second best could put that fight in jeopardy.

Finland’s Helenius, 39, was drafted in as a late replacement after original opponent Dillian Whyte 29-3 (19) was scratched a week out from the bout following a failed drug test.

Wilder blasted away Helenius in the opening round of their clash last October and Joshua knows there will be comparisons made with his performance.

“I can’t fail. That’s good pressure. Fight hard and win,” Joshua said.

“There’re always going to be comparisons, but this is my fight with Helenius. Not Wilder’s fight, or anyone else’s fight. It’s just me and him.”

The fight will be just the second one for Joshua with his new trainer Derrick James following his unanimous points decision victory over fringe contender Jermaine Franklin 22-2 (14) back in April.

He is expecting a tough challenge from Helenius, who is one week removed from an easy third-round knockout of overmatched Mika Mielonen 6-1 (6) in his homeland last Saturday night.

“It’s the wrong mindset with Helenius. He is going to roll the dice. What’s he got to lose?” Joshua said.

“It’s going to be a good fight but I want to take him out in round one if I can. I need to take him out. Helenius has got to worry about me, and I’ve got to worry about myself.”

The last time Joshua took on a late replacement he was ambushed by Andy Ruiz Jr 35-2 (22) who collected his WBA, WBO and IBF titles by seventh-round knockout at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden in June 2019.

Joshua is adamant he will not make the same mistake again, while for Helenius it could well be his last shot on the big stage. And that makes him a dangerous proposition.

“I respect him a lot,” Helenius said of Joshua. “Of course, I think he’s a little bit gun-shy from his earlier fights. Or I don’t know if it’s gun-shyness anymore. I think it’s more of his change in his technique with a new trainer. And they’re making him [make] more movements, more checking around, not going in aggressively, like he did in the beginning of his career.

“He’s grown as a boxer as well… I respect him tremendously and I’m gonna have to be a hundred percent [there mentally] to get this win.”

Despite boxing on foreign soil, Helenius doesn’t believe a knockout is necessary to get the win.

“I don’t think so, no,” he said. “I don’t think so. I have to be active and then explosive and elusive. Really, movement, speed is gonna be key.”