British boxing star, Anthony Joshua, will step into the ring to face Eric Molina on Saturday night, in an attempt to defend his IBF heavyweight world title for the second time. So who is the favourite and could there be any surprises in store?
Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina – An Unsatisfying Alternative to a Klitschko Fight?
On 1 November 2016, it was confirmed that Anthony Joshua would be fighting American boxer, Eric Molina, at the Manchester Arena on Saturday 10 December. The announcement was disappointing for many boxing fans, as Joshua’s next title fight was widely expected to be against the former WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko.
The Klitschko fight was initially set to take place on Saturday, but was delayed when the Ukrainian boxer suffered a minor injury. Although Klitschko is now fit again, the organisers decided that they didn’t have enough time to promote such a huge event and Joshua vs. Molina was arranged instead. The decision has left many Joshua fans frustrated – and some claim that Molina isn’t a worthy opponent for the British star.
Joshua vs. Molina – Who Will Take the IBF Heavyweight Title?
Anthony Joshua, nicknamed “AJ”, is the outright favourite to win the coveted boxing trophy. In fact, the bookies’ odds on him retaining his title are so high that, according to World Boxing News, he is “unbackable”.
The 27-year-old, who won the gold medal as a super-heavyweight at the London 2012 Olympic Games, has won all seventeen of his professional fights by knockout, and is considered to be one of Britain’s biggest boxing talents. He first won the IBF heavyweight world title in April 2016, when he beat Charles Martin, and successfully defended it two months later when he fought Dominic Breazeale.
Even Klitschko, who will be ringside for the fight, has openly backed Joshua for the title win.
“I’m looking forward to this fight this Saturday. I hope the strongest man will win, which is Anthony,” he told the Telegraph. “We will then look forward to our match next year.”
34-year-old Molina, who has yet to win a world title, has won 25 of his 28 fights, with nineteen of his victories being by knockout. While he is definitely the underdog in Saturday’s fight, he has previously proved that he can cause an upset. Molina surprised fans and pundits alike when he stopped Tomasz Adamek in Poland earlier this year, and he forced Deontay Wilder to wobble in the third round when they met in 2015.
The fact that Joshua is expected to win tomorrow doesn’t seem to be causing Molina any concern.
“The more they count me out, the harder I work, the more focused I get and the more confident I get,” he told Sky Sports.
“There is no pressure on me, the pressure is on him,” he added.
Rob McCracken, Anthony Joshua’s new full-time coach, confirmed that neither he nor Joshua were underestimating Molina either.
“Molina stunned WBC champ Deontay Wilder when they fought and although he took a lot of punishment, he was very dangerous through nine rounds,” he told Sky Sports.
“He had a good win over Adamek last time out as well so he knows what he is doing. He works on the angles to bring you on to hooks and will be difficult to hit. This is a slight step up in levels for AJ, but he will be ready.”
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