Anthony Joshua can’t afford defeat to Robert Helenius after risking his profession…

Boxing brought on a collective groan this week when an aged Finnish heavyweight who seems extra just like the Yeti than the Nordic Nightmare, as he calls himself, was named because the alternative opponent for Anthony Joshua this Saturday evening.

Ticket holders for the 02 are nonetheless wrestling with whether or not to ask for a refund or present up in case an actual struggle breaks out.

Public opinion on this event does rather less than justice to Robert Helenius. It is probably not probably the most demanding, however at the very least he’s a marginal enchancment on the drug-tested Dillian Whyte. Nor does the notion of Helenius as a sheriff’s deputy do something to deflect the warmth from Joshua.

Every struggle since AJ was knocked out by roly-poly Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr after which misplaced his world titles for a second time to Ukrainian warfare mascot Oleksandr Usyk has been a pivotal turning level.

Bluntly, he can’t afford one other defeat. Certainly not if it have been inflicted by a flippantly regarded alternative.

Anthony Joshua takes on Finnish heavyweight Robert Helenius on the 02 Arena on Saturday evening

The two-time world champion admits strain is on after dropping his titles to Oleksandr Usyk

A defeat for Joshua would seemingly imply a New Year’s struggle in opposition to Deontay Wilder is out of the query

“No, I can’t lose,” says Joshua. ‘Yes, I’m below strain. Hopefully it’s a superb push that retains me targeted on getting the job achieved as shortly as attainable. I’m the one who has every part to lose.’

Not solely lose the tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} being provided for a New Year’s struggle in opposition to Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia, however how a lot is left of a profession topped with Olympic gold and two reigns as world heavyweight champion. “Robert,” as Joshua places it, “has nothing to lose, everything to gain.”

Helenius explains precisely how a lot he might earn by giving up the searching, capturing and fishing vacation in Lapland he promised his kids after a straightforward knockout victory in a Finnish citadel final Saturday evening.

To start with, he says, “This win will put me among the leading heavyweight contenders and the millions in purses that come with those big fights.”

Then he says: ‘I also know that if I beat Joshua, I will become the biggest star in Finnish sports history. Since the news broke on Monday that I am replacing Dillian in this fight, it has been all over television, radio and the front and back pages of newspapers in my country. I think they would make me president if I wanted to. For what, no thanks.

“But I do think that the public will see me as even bigger than Maati Nykanen (the best ski jumper of all time) and Paavo Nurmi (the legendary runner who won nine gold and three silver medals in three Summer Olympics).”

It will not escape the attention of petrolheads that there is not even a mention of the three Finnish F1 world champions Mika Hakkinen, Keke Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. Each country has its own sporting preferences.

Helenius hopes for a victory that would make him ‘the greatest star in Finland’s sporting historical past’

And for each idol, the fickleness of fame. Joshua is unaware that his fan base is weakening as he steps again from large stadium title fights to arenas. There’s a wistfulness about him and humility, however no resentment, as he says, ‘I never believed the hype. Never thought “oh they love me.” You will suffer if you believe that. People don’t such as you. They love the belts and whoever has them is the king. The belts usually are not mine now so I can perceive there’s a shift in my actuality.

That’s why I’ve labored arduous to develop my life exterior the ring. In company life. About advertising my model. Low instances like this may eat you up in case your solely identification is that of a boxer. Even if you’re champion. If you lose or retire, you lose that identification. I’ll outline myself by what I do all through my life.’

Still, he’s prepared to work arduous to reverse that gradual drift from worship: “It’s back to the 02 and touring the arenas. Maybe the next Manchester. It’s a rebuilding process and I really believe I can get back to stadiums by fighting the right people. You know who they are (think Wilder, Tyson Fury, and Usyk probably in that order.)

“Definitely, I can win one of the belts because they all become available pretty soon. Maybe not all. Maybe not become a unified champion again. Winning one belt is easier than battling champion after champion to collect belts. That is very, very difficult. And now I have to concentrate on the man in front of me on Saturday.’

Joshua’s support among boxing fans is starting to wane, but he is willing to work hard to recoup his titles

Joshua warms to that task when he is told that Helenius has described him as “a little robotic.” He says, “Looks like being a robot has paid off. Twice world champion.’

A little fear should come in handy as he has set his sights on matching Wilder’s instant knockout of Helenius in October. AJ says, “Comparing results doesn’t really work, but I also want him out in the first round.”

Even if it takes a bit longer, a showreel KO within the 02 could be a clarion name for the devoted and take him again to the large time. Expect a cease. Not least as a result of Joshua is aware of he’d run out of steam with something much less.

Joshua v Helenius will likely be broadcasted for all times this Saturday evening on DAZN, by way of an everyday subscription.