ANTHONY JOSHUA MBE is set to defend his IBF World Heavyweight title against Eric Molina at the Manchester Arena on December 10, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on SHOWTIME in the US.
Joshua puts his crown on the line for the second time and fights his third American in a row having destroyed Charles Martin inside two rounds to rip the title from the St Louis man in April at The O2 in London and then stopping Dominic Breazeale in the seventh round at the same venue in June, extending his unbeaten run in the paid ranks to 17 wins, all inside the distance.
Molina becomes the latest man to attempt to derail the Olympic Gold medal hero, the Texan is looking to get his hands on the top prize in his second World title tilt after challenging Deontay Wilder for the WBC crown in June 2015. The 34 year old enters the bout full of confidence after travelling to Poland and knocking out Tomasz Adamek in the tenth round of their clash for the IBF Inter-Continental strap in April.
“I am pleased that everything is now set for December 10 and I can concentrate on getting the business done in the ring,” said Joshua. “There has been plenty of talk about who I may face but all I’m doing is concentrating on finishing Molina in style and putting on a great show.
“Every fight is dangerous in this division and this is no exception. I saw Molina have a great fight with Wilder and he is now coming off a strong KO win against Adamek in Poland.
“I’m expecting this to be the toughest fight of my career so far and I will be ready for an all-out war.”
“There is no heavyweight in the world that has bounced back like I have,” said Molina. “That’s the man that Joshua faces on December 10 and that man is a very dangerous one.
“He’ll fight the toughest Molina that anybody has ever seen, just like Adamek fought the toughest Molina.
“I’m confident. These type of fights don’t shake me up, I’m a very strong mental fighter. I know exactly what I’ve got to do to prepare myself in the amount of time. I know exactly what I’ve got to do, mentally, physically, to go there and perform.
“When you walk out into the atmosphere, half the battle is the mental battle, and if you can stay in the moment mentally you have a shot in any fight.”
There’s a huge card in support of the main event as Dillian Whyte defends his British heavyweight title against bitter London rival Dereck Chisora in an official eliminator for the WBC title. Whyte makes the second defence of his strap after seeing off fellow Brixton man Ian Lewison in Glasgow last month, while former World title challenger Chisora can get his hands on the Lord Lonsdale belt for the second time.
Scott Quigg returns to action after treatment on his broken jaw following his unification blockbuster with Carl Frampton, and the Bury star moves up to featherweight as he looks to regain his status as a World champion.
Kal Yafai can become Birmingham’s first World champion but the unbeaten 27 year old faces a tough task to rip the WBA Super-Flyweight title against Luis Concepcion, the two-weight World champion that will enter the ring in his 11th World title outing.
Irish amateur sensation Katie Taylor boxes for the second time in the paid ranks after making her pro debut at The SSE Arena, Wembley on November 26, Heavyweight wrecking ball ‘King Kong’ Luis Ortiz fights in Europe for the second time after clashing with Malik Scott in Monte-Carlo on November 12 and Hosea Burton will defend his British Light-Heavyweight title against Frank Buglioni.
“The Heavyweight division has been turned on its head in the last few months and while many are standing still waiting, I’m delighted to get this huge card up and running in Manchester,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
“I have spoken to Eric Molina at length and I know this is going to be a big test for Anthony. We saw in the Wilder fight that he can punch and doesn’t give in and is coming off a strong knockout win against Adamek in his back yard in Poland. We have requested an exception from the IBF for this fight and although the plans are for a major unification in the spring this fight requires Anthony’s full focus.
“The card is one of the strongest we have produced, supported by a huge all-British Heavyweight grudge match between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora which will be an official eliminator for the WBC World title.
“We are delighted to see the return of Scott Quigg who will now campaign at Featherweight and Birmingham’s Kal Yafai has a chance to make history in a brutal fight against World champion Luis Concepcion.
“One of the most exciting Heavyweights in world boxing Luis Ortiz will feature and Ireland’s Katie Taylor will continue to break the mould in front of a sold out 21,000 crowd. The re-scheduled British Light-Heavyweight clash between Hosea Burton and Frank Buglioni is sure to produce fireworks and there will also be further names added in the following weeks.”