Eddie Hearn has revealed Anthony Joshua’s immediate reaction to the news that Dillian Whyte had returned ‘adverse findings’ in a random VADA drugs test in the lead up to their fight.
Joshua had been set to face Whyte in a rematch at the O2 Arena in London this weekend, but news broke just days ago that Whyte had been pulled from the show after VADA flagged the test result.
Hearn and Matchroom fought to save the show and it has now been confirmed that heavyweight veteran, Robert Helenius, will step in as a last minute replacement to face ‘AJ’.
This isn’t the first time a Joshua opponent has been removed from the show on short notice. In 2019 the former two-time champion had been set to face Jarrell Miller in his American debut at Madison Square Garden – but Miller failed numerous tests in the build up. Andy Ruiz Jr stepped up to the challenge and caused one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history.
On first hearing of the news from Hearn, instead of reacting with shock or anger, Joshua messaged his promoter passing on his sympathy and praise.
“Great Morning. I can only imagine the time and effort you and your team have put into organising a fight night.
Just to say sorry about the news. Thank you for all you and Matchroom do for me, it’s appreciated and I never take it for granted.”
In a press release from Matchroom on the official announcement of his new opponent, Joshua admitted none of events were “in the script” but will use this fight to make “steps forward to bigger and better things”.
“This wasn’t in the script.
I respect Helenius and may I say, I respect any male or female who steps into the ring. I am laser focused on the win. I can make steps forward to bigger and better things but the road map has a check point, Saturday night. May the best man win.”
With a change to the main event the card will no longer be on DAZN PPV and will instead be included as part of your monthly subscription.