IBF World Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua produced another dominant display to stop challenger Eric Molina inside three rounds at the Manchester Arena, before it was announced that he would face legendary heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko in a title unification fight at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
With Klitschko watching on from ringside the undefeated Joshua took his professional record to 18 wins, all by way of knockout, with a dismantling of American Molina who never looked capable of upsetting the champion. After patiently waiting for an opening Joshua floored his opponent with a stinging right hand in round three before the referee waved the fight off moments later as Joshua pounced on the dazed Molina.
And immediately after the final bell Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed his fighter’s Wembley showdown with Klitschko, saying “I think it is the biggest fight in British boxing history.”
Earlier in the evening Dillian Whyte staked his claim as a heavyweight title challenger with a narrow split decision victory over Dereck Chisora in a barnstorming affair. After a great deal of bad blood in the build up it was a highly anticipated confrontation which did not disappoint, whilst thankfully being contested in the right manner. Also on the card there were wins for Katie Taylor, Scott Quigg, Connor Benn and Callum Smith while Frank Buglioni produced a stunning final round stoppage to take the British Light Heavyweight title from Hosea Burton and Kal Yafai beat Luis Concepcion via unanimous decision to win the WBA world super-flyweight title.
Elsewhere, the vacant WBO version of the heavyweight crown was narrowly won by New Zealand’s Joseph Parker courtesy of a majority decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr. But it was the confirmation that Joshua and Klitschko would finally face off with the IBF and WBA ‘super’ titles on the line that stole the day’s headlines. Klitschko spent a decade at the top of the heavyweight division before being defeated by Tyson Fury in November 2015 for the WBA ‘super’, WBO and IBF belts. His attempts to reclaim those titles were frustrated as proposed rematches with Fury fell through. After Fury was stripped of the belts earlier this year the Ukrainian now must overcome the unbeaten Joshua if he is to regain two of his former titles.
Joshua said of the impending fight, “Klitschko wants his belts back. May the best man win”. “He [Joshua] is the best man in the division”, claimed Klitschko, adding, “It is what the fans want. There was no doubt this fight must happen.”
– Alistair Sargent, Correspondent (Sport)