Eddie Hearn’s last minute search for a replacement for Dillian Whyte has come to an end, with Robert Helenius stepping in to face Anthony Joshua at the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena on Saturday night.
However, just days ago, Helenius was boxing in a much different atmosphere.
Coming off a terrifying first-round knockout defeat to Deontay Wilder last year, ‘The Nordic Nightmare’ returned to his native Finland ten months on, scoring a third-round stoppage win over the previously undefeated Mika Mielonen on Saturday night.
41-year-old Mielonen had stopped all six of his opponents ahead of the spectacle, but was no match for the tried and tested Helenius, who was levels above him on the night.
Whilst Wilder’s knockout over Helenius was eye-catching, Helenius’ over Mielonen was less so, with many viewers quick to point to the background of the footage, rather than the finish itself, in a clip doing the rounds on social media.
Robert Helenius (32-5) successfully returns to the ring and stops Mika Mielonen (6-1) in their heavyweight main event with a TKO in Round 3 in Savonlinna, Finland. 🇫🇮 pic.twitter.com/ony2O0QBBF
— Permante (@PermantexG) August 5, 2023
The spectacle took place at Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna, Finland, a 15th century stronghold that was built on an island in Lake Saimaa, but captured by Russia during the Russo-Swedish War in 1742. Over sixty years later, Finland became an autonomous part of Russia, meaning that the castle lost its strategic function and was opened to tourists.
For over a century, the Savonlinna Opera Festival has been hosted at Olavinlinna, but there have been eight other boxing events over the last decade, each taking place in August in a new yearly tradition for the locals.
Helenius previously fought at the local landmark in 2018, where he outpointed Yury Bykhautsou in a six-rounder and Oskari Metz, Edis Tatli and former world champion, Eva Wahlstrom, have also all been regulars on the cards.
Now Helenius will prepare to walk out in an alternate climate, taking on Anthony Joshua on just four days’ notice, live on DAZN.