IBF World Champion Anthony Joshua is set to make his second defence of the title as he welcomes the the Texan challenger Eric Molina into a whole different type of heat at the Manchester Arena in England on the 10th December.
LAST LEARNING FIGHT
Win or learn. Some of the greatest old minds in the sport say you often learn more in defeat than you do in victory. However, for 27 year old Anthony Joshua, losing has fast become an unfrequented notion and he seems to be picking a few things up along the way too.
The IBF champion has been progressed quite cautiously throughout his pro career thus far under the stewardship of trainer Tony Sims but his devastating knockout run has left fight fans thirsty to see him matched up against the very small handful of fighters who can be considered as the worlds elite.
With a spring showdown with Vladimir Klitschko in the pipeline, this fight against Eric Molina really marks the last learning fight for Joshua. After this fight, providing he wins this of course, every fight should be a top fight in a bid to unify the division. In order to truly see the sport flourish in a much bigger way it will take a fighter like Joshua to be matched in these big fights with some regularity while he is in his prime.
Joshua has certainly had it all his own way in the professional ranks so far but his measured progression has perhaps been planned carefully as a result of his relative inexperience in the amateur ranks despite having achieved that gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic games. In terms of progression he was in overdrive as an amateur. Improvements in his game since then have been vast.
When you look back to his first pro fight against Emanuele Leo he looked slightly cumbersome and overly muscle bound which left big qustion as too whether he would have the stamina to go a full 12 rounds. He also looked potentially too easy to hit clean once in with a skilled operator. However what a difference three years of development can make. In his last fight against the brave Breazeale he put on a dominant display and banked a good seven rounds.
The aspect that really impressed most in his last fight against Dominic Breazeale was his jab. He controlled the fight with his lead left jab, always first to initiate and it really set him up for everything else he threw that night.
CHEAP SHOTS THROWN
Rumours are rife in boxing and when people are angling for fights the unwritten rules of keeping sparring strictly behind closed doors can go out of the window. Ahead of this fight other British heavyweights such as David Price have been keen to highlight times that Joshua has tasted the canvas in sparring and many were keen to highlight Dillian Whyte’s thumping win win over him in the amateurs which happened many moons ago before there domestic dust up.
I certainly wouldnt read into these incidences too much. These knockdowns came at a time when the experience gap was vast. The Joshua of today a completely different proposition to the inexperienced man who got knocked down.
It is these experiences that have gone some way to building himself into a the leather gloved leviathan. His raw physical attibutes now mark him out amonsgst all the heavyweight contenders.There are still gaps in his game but in a division struggling for world class depth there are few men capable of posing the correct questions.
WHO IS ERIC MOLINA?
Eric Molina is currently ranked at N0.2 ranked fighter in USA and ranked at No. 11 in the world. He is an American Heavyweight fighting out of Texas. He has a record of 25W 3L with a 68% knockout ratio.
MOLINA THE GATEKEEPER
Joshua will without doubt be expected to deliver another stoppage victory against an opponent who is not very well known outside of boxing circles in Eric Molina. Molina does have a good profile in the United States though having been involved in a big dust up with WBC champion Deontay Wilder which he ultimately lost via KO in the ninth round. Despite the result he saw his stock rise after delivering a credible performance against a big puncher.
At one point in the fight he rocked Wilder to his boots after connected cleanly with a big left hook. This left hook is the danger punch from Molina. He delivered it perfectly against Deontay Wilder at 6ft 7 inches tall is aman who is similar in stature to Joshua and willbe looking to land it again.
Molina is also coming into this off the back of a highlight reel knockout win over Tomasz Adamek. If anything it shows he can certainly punch hard enough to hurt Joshua which makes him a live opponent even if he has been totally disregarded by the general public.
BEATING THE DRUMMER BOY
Molina likes to keep his left hand low and throw his jab from the hip. This makes it hard to detect whether hes going to throw it straight or round the side of the guard. However the disadvantage of this is that he relies on a mayweather style shoulder roll defence with only his right hand ready to parry.
This I believe will make him susceptible to being hit with a straight right, a shot which Joshua is very adept at throwing. Joshua is slightly more measured than Wilder in his approach and this should stand him in good stead to deal with Molina more easily. He has the height and reach advantage and by keeping his shots straight should be able to dominate. Whilst Molina hits harder that his previous opponent Breazeale, he is probably not as durable.