By Francisco Salazar
Anthony Joshua finally has an opponent for December 10.
Joshua will defend his IBF heavyweight title belt against contender and former title challenger Eric Molina, promoter Eddie Hearn announced through social media on Tuesday.
The bout will take place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Showtime will broadcast the fight live.
Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) will be making the second defense of the title he won from Charles Martin on April 9. In his first title defense, the 2012 Super Heavyweight Gold Medalist dominated contender Dominic Breazeale before stopping him in the Seventh round on June 25.
“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.”
Wladimir Klitschko had been mentioned as a possible opponent for the 27-year-old Joshua. There were numerous dates this year where Klitschko was scheduled to fight Tyson Fury, but they were postponed due to Fury’s troubles outside of the ring.
There were ongoing discussions between Matchroom Boxing, which promotes Joshua, and K2 Promotions, which promotes Klitschko. The fight was scrapped when Klitschko announced last week that he suffered a ‘minor injury’ during training camp.
Molina (25-3, 19 KOs) was unsuccessful in his only attempt at a world title belt, losing by knockout in the ninth round at the hands of WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder.
In his last bout on April 2, Molina, who is a special education teacher at a high school in Edinburg, Texas, scored a knockout victory over Tomasz Adamek in the 10th round. Molina was down 88-83 on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the knockout.
The fight will top a strong Matchroom Boxing card.
Junior bantamweight Luis Concepcion (35-4, 24 KOs) will defend his WBA title against unbeaten Khalid Yafai (20-0, 14 KOs). Heavyweights Dereck Chisora (26-6, 18 KOs) and Dillian Whyte (19-1, 15 KOs) square off in a 12 round bout.
Matchroom Boxing also announced heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz will appear on the card. Ortiz is scheduled to fight November 12 against Malik Scott.
Amateur standout and 2012 Gold Medalist Katie Taylor is penciled to fight on the card as well.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing