Robert Helenius named as Dillian Whyte’s replacement for Saturday’s cancelled rematch vs Anthony Joshua


Veteran heavyweight Robert Helenius has been revealed as the man to replace Dillian Whyte against Anthony Joshua after ‘The Body Snatcher’ was found to have failed a drugs test ahead of his planned bout at the 02 Arena on August 12.

It was revealed on Saturday morning by Matchroom promotions that Dillian Whyte had returned “adverse analytical findings” as part of a random anti-doping protocol.

Whyte has since responded to the revelations via Instagram pleading his innocence.

“I can confirm without a shadow of a 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 (voluntary anti-doping association) testing for this fight, as I have done voluntarily and at my own expense or 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”.

Whyte has previously tested positive for the banned stimulant Methylhexanamine after a victory over Sandor Balogh in 2012.

This comes just a week before the highly anticipated second bout between Whyte and Joshua, leaving the possibility of a second fight ever taking place relying on Whyte proving his innocence and in a precarious position.

The two heavyweights have a well-documented history going back to Whyte beating Joshua in the amateurs in a small north London pub in 2009, with Brixton-raised Whyte being the first man to put a defeat to Joshua’s name in the amateurs via a points decision after three rounds.

Following their meeting in the amateurs, both fighters’ careers took their own path. ‘The Body Snatcher’ continued to fight in the amateurs for two years before turning professional, while the defeat saw Joshua’s career improve and saw him secure a gold medal at the Olympic games in London just three years later.

Whyte’s record currently stands at 29-3-0, with 19 victories via knockout, and all three defeats being by knockout.

Meanwhile, Joshua’s record stands at 25-3-0, with 22 knockout victories and one of his three defeats coming via knockout against Andy Ruiz in his infamous first defeat of his professional career back in 2019.

Joshua’s most recent fight was against Jermaine Franklin, winning by unanimous decision back in April at the 02 Arena. This was Joshua’s first fight since his back-to-back defeats against Oleksandr Usyk, in which he surrendered his unified heavyweight titles to the Ukrainian.

Helenius, known as ‘The Nordic Nightmare’, comes into the fight, having only fought last Saturday, securing a third-round TKO win over Mika Mielonen in Finland.

The 39-year-old has 32 wins and 4 losses to his name. His most high-profile defeat came last October through a first-round knockout defeat courtesy of Deontay Wilder, the man Joshua is rumoured to be lining up if he defeats the 6ft 6in veteran in a big-money fight likely to take place in the middle east.

He has also recorded defeats to the man he is replacing, Dillian Whyte, Gerald Washington, and Johann Duhaupas.

Eddie Hearn, Chairman of Matchroom Sport, has spoken of the difficulty in replacing Whyte with such short notice when speaking to the Matchroom Boxing official YouTube channel.

“You’re going to get criticised in whatever you do. You’ve got people like Filip Hrgovic, who’s had a 12-week camp for a southpaw. His team aren’t going to be necessarily looking to jump in with Anthony Joshua.”

“You’ve got Demsey McKean, who could have been an option, but he’s a southpaw, and ‘AJ’s’ not going to jump in with a southpaw”.

The event now goes ahead as planned on the 12th of August, with names including Derek Chisora, Filip Hrgovic, Johnny Fisher, and Campbell Hatton fighting on the undercard.

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