THE wait is over. The Anthony Joshua next fight has been decided. The IBF heavyweight champion will box Eric Molina on December 10 at the Manchester Arena.
Hopes had been raised that Joshua would fight the former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko this year. The two sides had agreed terms but ultimately Klitschko walked away from the deal. Wladimir wanted to be certain the WBA title would be on offer as well as Joshua’s IBF belt and his team wanted more time to promote what would be one of the most high profile events in the sport. The expectation is that Joshua-Klitschko will happen next year, as long as Anthony defeats Molina on December 10.
Joshua is a strong favourite. The London 2012 Olympic gold medallist has amassed a 17-0 record with every victory coming inside the distance. Joshua knocked out Charles Martin to claim the IBF title, after the belt had been stripped from Tyson Fury. He has already completed one defence, halting Dominic Breazeale in seven rounds.
The wrangling with the Klitschko team however has eaten into Joshua’s preparation time. For weeks now he has been training without an opponent for this second title defence, initially for a November 26 date, which was then put back to December 10.
There are blots on Molina’s record, in 2012 for instance Chris Arreola stopped him inside one round. He did acquit himself well against WBC champion Deontay Wilder, going nine rounds before he was knocked out. Molina picked up a good win earlier this year when he halted Tomasz Adamek in Poland.
Kal Yafai’s super-flyweight world title fight with Luis Concepcion has already been confirmed for the undercard and former world titlist Scott Quigg will make his featherweight debut on the bill.
There is further intrigue on the undercard. Outspoken British heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora will collide. Hostility between the two has flared across social media in recent days. After famously fighting Anthony Joshua for the British title last year, Whyte won the Lonsdale belt against Ian Lewison in October. Chisora is a former world title challenger, who has lost to Vitali Klitschko and David Haye, and has held British and European heavyweight titles previously in his career.
An excellent British light-heavyweight title fight between Hosea Burton and Frank Buglioni is being lined up for the undercard. Former world champion Scott Quigg should be making his featherweight debut.
Olympic gold medallist and five time amateur World champion Katie Taylor will also box on the bill.