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Just In: Anthony Joshua Knocks Out Helenius With One Punch

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Heavyweight Anthony Joshua spectacularly knocked out Robert Helenius with one punch in round seven, after boxing tentatively in the first half of the fight at London’s O2 Arena.

The 33-year-old Briton – who was jeered by fans during the fight – landed nothing of note until an overhand right ended Helenius’ night.

The win – Joshua’s first stoppage win in two and half years – sets up a blockbuster fight with American Deontay Wilder in January.

“It’s a fickle sport, you’ve got to be real about this industry and not get caught up. I’ve done my job tonight,” Joshua told BBC Radio 5 live.

When asked in the ring about the potential fight with Wilder, Joshua joked: “My back’s gone, is there a doctor in here? I want to carry this heavyweight division to the top.”

After the knockout, an emotionally charged and smiling Joshua climbed out of the ring, high-fived fans and shared a beer with Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor.

Helenius needed oxygen after the heavy knockdown, but recovered and left the ring unassisted after congratulating Joshua.

Joshua extends his record to 26 wins – with 23 stoppages – and three defeats.

Finland’s Helenius – who took the fight on a weeks’ notice after Briton Dillian Whyte failed a voluntary drug test – loses his fifth pro fight in 36 outings.

From cautious start to vintage ‘AJ’ finish

Joshua struggled to find any rhythm but the manner of the finish may just be the confidence-boosting win he so desperately needed, and a gentle reminder to other heavyweights he is not yet done.

Helenius made his way to the ring in a packed out arena at the late time of 23:10 BST. Fans were offered a full refund when Whyte was withdrawn from the card but such is the draw of Joshua – there were no empty blue seats once the main event started.

The Briton confidently strode to the ring to a medley of a violinist playing the title song from the film ‘The Godfather’ and then the more upbeat ‘Insomnia’ by Faithless.

The 2012 Olympic gold medallist – fighting at the O2 Arena for the ninth time – kept his eyes firmly locked on Helenius during the introductions, who mockingly clapping back.

Anthony Joshua punches Robert Helenius

Helenius stepped in on Monday for the heavyweight bout
Helenius took the middle of the ring and swung a wild left in the first few seconds. The ‘Nordic Nightmare’ looked unfazed by the hostile atmosphere but neither man landed anything of note in a cagey opener.

Joshua was moving freely, looking to set traps but throwing single shots and not imposing himself on the stand-in fighter.

Fans started to become restless as early as the third. Boos echoed around the arena. The crowd wanted to see combinations, not this tentative approach.

Joshua had not knocked out an opponent in the first half of a fight since beating Eric Molina in 2016, a staggering statistic for someone once considered one of the heaviest hitters in boxing.

The Watford-born fighter landed a solid left in the fourth which sent Helenius backpedalling, but there was no sustained attack to follow.

Helenius grew in confidence, landing jabs to mark Joshua under the eye in the fifth. There were more jeers from a bored crowd at the halfway stage.

“It’s hard to find the right hand,” Joshua told trainer Derrick James. The American replied: “Keep trying.”

Joshua adhered to the instructions. Those fans who left their seats missed what promoter Eddie Hearn described as the “knockout of the year”.

A double feint followed by a right sent the Finn to the canvas, with referee Victor Loughlin halting the contest.

‘We hope Wilder fight is imminent’ – Hearn

Anthony Joshua celebrates

Joshua is in talks to fight Deontay Wilder in January
Representatives from Saudi Arabia were in attendance, keen to conclude negotiations for a Joshua-Wilder mega-fight in the Middle East early next year.

All Joshua had to do was avoid a potential banana skin in Helenius. Fortunately for him and Wilder, there was no slip-up.

“We hope it’s imminent,” Hearn said. “That’s why he wanted the Dillian Whyte fight, it’s hard for him to get up to fights like this.

“If he hits Wilder on the chin then it’s over. This is about Anthony Joshua now, it’s not about pleasing others. He’s given everything to British boxing.”

Joshua-Wilder is a fight which has been mooted several times before, notably when the two heavyweights collectively held all four world titles.

Boxing politics starved it from happening then, but it appears the money offered for a Middle East showdown will be too good for either fighter – or their promoters – to turn down.

The winner will be propelled back towards world-title contention, the loser consoled by a career-high purse.

Alabama’s Wilder is one of the most ferocious punchers in heavyweight history. ‘The Bronze Bomber’ stopped Helenius in under three minutes in October, and Joshua was under pressure to deliver an equally devastating, statement win.

Despite the sensational finish, there are still plenty of question marks surrounding Joshua’s performance. The same cautious approach may not be wise against Wilder.

“I just want to see AJ fight someone of the calibre of Robert Helenius and treat him like Wilder,” former world champion David Haye said on BBC 5 live.

“He can’t just stand there and jab, it doesn’t work against Wilder. He will run through him.”

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Paul Pogba Receives 4-Year Ban From Football For Doping

Pogba argued that he had ingested the substance accidentally in the hope of receiving a reduced suspension but, as first revealed by La Repubblica, his claims have been rejected and he has now been handed the biggest possible suspension of four years.

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Juventus player Paul Pogba has been banned from football for four years following a failed drug test, according to reports by Italian media.

Pogba tested positive for testosterone earlier this season and was suspended on September 11, 2023, while officials opened an investigation.

Pogba argued that he had ingested the substance accidentally in the hope of receiving a reduced suspension but, as first revealed by La Repubblica, his claims have been rejected and he has now been handed the biggest possible suspension of four years.

Pogba will turn 31 in March and will not be able to return to competitive football until shortly before his 35th birthday. It is understood that his four-year suspension will include the period he has already served on the sidelines and will therefore be lifted in 2027.

Pogba returned to Juventus on a free transfer after his Manchester United contract expired in 2022 but suffered a serious knee injury during the summer which limited him to just ten appearances across all competitions last season, including just one start in Serie A. In total, he has played just 213 minutes for Juventus since returning to the club.

The French midfielder went unused in the first game of the season but was still randomly selected for a doping test after the match. He made two more substitute appearances before the results were confirmed and Pogba was suspended.

He remains under contract with Juventus until 2026. The club have been informed of the court’s decision but are yet to respond publicly.

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Just In: Tinubu Honours Super Eagles, Officials With MON Award

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President Bola Tinubu has conferred the national honour of Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) on all Super Eagles team members in appreciation of their performance at the just concluded CAF 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament held in Cote d’Ivoire.

In further recognition of their achievement, the federal government, represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)  Nyesom Wike, has granted each member of the team a plot of land as well as a flat with the location yet to be announced.

President Tinubu, who received the national football team, expressed pride in the team, acknowledging their role in fostering unity within the country through their remarkable performance.

Despite finishing second, he encouraged them to hold their heads high and maintain their team spirit.

Troost Ekong, the team’s assistant captain and recipient of the 2023 CAF AFCON Most Valuable Player, expressed gratitude to President Tinubu for his support, expressing a desire to present a trophy rather than silver medals.

Details shortly…

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AFCON 2023: Tinubu To Attend Super Eagles, Ivory Coast Final In Cote d’Ivoire

Mr Motsepe said. “The Nigerian president (Bola Tinubu) is coming to watch the final on Sunday. I will have a conversation with him about it,”

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The Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Dr Patrice Motsepe has confirmed President Tinubu’s intention to grace the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday. 

Mr Motsepe confirmed the development at a press conference held by the CAF supremo in Abidjan on Friday while responding to a question from a journalist asking when Africa can host the FIFA World Cup again.

Responding to a question, Mosepe stated that Vice President Kashim Shettima told him that President Tinubu would come for the final game on Sunday.

“I was with the Vice President (Kasheem Shettima) on Wednesday and he said that Nigeria’s president will come for the final,” Mosepe said.

“Nigeria must put in a bid,” Mr Motsepe said. “The Nigerian president (Bola Tinubu) is coming to watch the final on Sunday. I will have a conversation with him about it,” he added.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles beat South Africa in the penalty shootout on Wednesday to reach the final of this year’s tournament, setting up a final showdown with the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire on Sunday.

Mr Tinubu sent his Vice President, Kashim Shettima, to Côte d’Ivoire to represent him in the game against South Africa, having just been back a few days earlier from a trip to France but will be present at the stadium on Sunday for the final.

Before now, many government officials and dignitaries from Nigeria have come to Cote d’Ivoire to support the Super Eagles.

Notable among them are Vice President Kasheem Shettima, Senate President Godswill Akpabio, Kwara State Governor Rasaq Abdul Rahman and Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.

 

 

 

 

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