Friday, August 11, 2023

Mini Preview: Joshua-Helenius / Navarrete-Valdez

 The day of August 12, 2023 will be an interesting one highlighted by two fights in Boxing’s Heavyweight and Jr. Lightweight divisions. While this observer was intending to provide readers of a thorough preview of the Heavyweight bout in the days leading up to August 12th, as most know those plans changed one week prior to the scheduled bout, which also necessitated a change in the plans of yours truly. The bout that yours truly is referring to is the scheduled rematch between former two-time World Heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former world title challenger Dillian Whyte. A fight that seemingly had a lot on the table for both fighters, but more specifically for Joshua, who has a potential lucrative fight against former WBC Heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder later this year or perhaps in January 2024. The rematch however, will not take places it was revealed that Whyte Had tested positive for what was described as a quote “Adverse Finding” in tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) resulting in the fight being canceled.

While Joshua would have been fully within his rights to not fight on and instead go straight to the potential fight with Wilder, he chose to fight on in wanting to stay as active as he can. On a little more than four days notice, A substitute opponent was found in the form of longtime Heavyweight contender and former European Heavyweight champion Robert Helenius. A fight that can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN.

Quite frankly, the story of this fight is one that is simple. Will Joshua be able to adapt to a different opponent on such short notice after having trained to fight Dillian Whyte. Although due in part to the circumstances this fight cannot be analyzed too much given the time constraints, Joshua has been in this position before, and the last time it did not turn out successful for him. 

Many likely remember Joshua's first reign as a Heavyweight world champion coming to an end in June 2019 when Andy Ruiz stepped in on short notice under circumstances similar to this where he replaced Jarrell Miller, who had tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, and despite the limited time to prepare, he knocked Joshua out and became Heavyweight champion of the world in the process. This time around, Joshua is facing a light place dangerous opponent in Helenius, but one that was caught cold in October of last year when he suffered a one punch knockout loss in the first round to Deontay Wilder. Coincidentally, Helenius fought last week in his native Finland and scored a third round knockout of a inexperienced opponent, so while he is stepping in on short notice, one might argue he might have an edge simply because he fought seven days prior to this bout taking place and did not take any damage during that bout.

It should not have to be explained that when two big Heavyweights get into a ring, each with knockout power in either hand, anything can happen and this is a scenario where Helenius has nothing to lose, but everything to gain and Joshua has everything to lose including the possibility to take one step closer to fighting for a world title once again. While Joshua-Helenius will be taking place at the O2 Arena in London, England, the second bout that will be taking place on August 12th might have the potential to be a Fight of the Year candidate. A battle for the WBO Jr. Lightweight world championship between champion Emanuel Navarrete and former WBC Jr. Lightweight world champion Oscar Valdez A fight that will take place at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, AZ that can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+. 

A battle between two boxer/punchers who have come forward pressure styles that can do a little of everything. This fight on the surface seems like it will be a better stylistic match up for Valdez who lost his WBC championship in April of last year in a unification bout with Shakur Stevenson. Valdez was outboxed that night by a superior boxer, but a boxer who did not engage with him and did not go toe to toe with him. While that fight, which was the first loss of Valdez’ career can be described as a bad style match up and one where he just could nullify Stevenson’s movement, this fight seems to be more in Valdez' wheelhouse simply because both he and Navarrete have similar styles. It is based on the styles of Navarrete and Valdez that some are calling this potentially the Fight of the Year in 2023.

This observer will not hype things too much because it is not needed when discussing two fighters that like to come forward and engage. Given what could be seen as an inevitable collision based on the styles of the two fighters and the fact that much like Joshua and Helenius, both have knockout power in either hand, it certainly would not surprise me to see this fight heat up very quickly and both fighters being more than willing to engage each other. Such a scenario may simply come down to who is able to land flush first, but with each fighter knowing what the other could do, may present an opportunity for one of them to take a more tactical approach at least in the early rounds. It will be interesting to see which fighter will take that approach, if either do, or if this could be what amounts to a shootout from the opening bell.

While the week that preceded these two fights began with one being made in the shadow of one of the negative flaws in the sport of the issue of performance enhancing substances, leading once more to a fight being canceled, one can only hope that the week will end on a bright note for the sport. Two competitive fights would certainly help to make that happen. 

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

Joshua vs. Helenius takes place on Saturday, August 12th at the O2 Arena in London, England. The fight as well as it’s full undercard can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning with Before the Bell, which will feature preliminary bouts that will begin at 12:30 PM ET/9:30 AM PT. This will be followed by the main portion of the card that will begin at 2PM ET/11AM PT. 

For more about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit:

Navarrete vs. Valdez takes place on Saturday, August 12th at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, AZ. The full card can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 7:55PM ET/4:55PM PT. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit:

(*Cards and Start times Subject to change.*)

(*Check your local listings internationally.*)

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