Anthony Joshua is trying to make the climb back to the heavyweight mountaintop.
The former two-time unified heavyweight world champion (26-3, 23 KOs) landed a powerful right hand that sent opponent Robert Helenius down, and referee Victor Loughlin quickly stopped the fight Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. It is the second brutal knockout Helenius (32-5, 21 KOs) has suffered in the past 10 months. He was floored even more viciously by former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder last October. A Joshua vs. Wilder fight finally seems destined, and is rumored to be in the works for early next year.
In an action-packed Saturday fight day, Emanuel Navarrete (38-1, 31 KOs) retained his WBO junior lightweight world title with a unanimous victory (116-112, 118-110, and 119-109) over fellow Mexican pugilist Oscar Valdez (31-2, 23 KOs) in Glendale, Arizona. On yet another boxing card, Emmanuel Rodriguez became a two-time IBF bantamweight champion on Saturday evening with a unanimous victory over Melvin Lopez at the MGM National Harbor in Maryland. Rodriguez (22-2, 13 KOs) dominated the fight, dropping Lopez (29-2, 19 KOs) three times in the final round to earn 120-105 on each scorecard. Undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Álvarez and undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo stared each other down for the first time on Tuesday at the Palladium in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan on the first leg of a two-city press conference tour before their upcoming clash on Saturday, Sept. 30, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, to be aired on Showtime PPV.
Many think Canelo is not the same dominant fighter he was in rising to become an all-time great (sentiments shared by this writer), in large part because of punishment suffered in his loss to Dmitry Bivol and his first two battles with Gennady Golovkin. In addressing that speculation, Canelo said, “It’s good that people are saying I’ve lost a step. It’s fine. I know why I didn’t look as good in my last two fights. I know why and I’m different now. I’m preparing now for a different type of fighter.”
Charlo discussed not only why he took the fight, but what will motivate him to defeat the Mexican legend. “I just want to quiet my haters and doubters, and turn non-believers into believers,” he asserted. “I’ve watched a lot of great people in the sport of boxing and now I think this is the best moment for me to leave my mark. With two great fighters in there, you get nothing but fireworks. When this fight presented itself, it was a no-brainer to make this happen.”
Charlo certainly would quiet his haters if he jumps two divisions, adds up to 14 pounds, and defeats Canelo.
Aljamain Sterling, who defeated Henry Cejudo to retain his UFC bantamweight title at UFC 288 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, will return to the Octagon to defend his title against Sean O’Malley at UFC 292 on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. The prelims will air on ESPN+ and ESPN, while the main card will air on ESPN+ PPV.
Finally, the PFL Playoffs will take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Aug. 18, when the men’s heavyweights and women’s featherweights will battle, and Wednesday, Aug. 23, when the lightweights and welterweights will compete. PFL will air on ESPN and ESPN+.