MANCHESTER: Anthony Joshua paved the way for a fight against Wladimir Klitschko next year by making quick work of Eric Molina in a third round win on Saturday. Photos by Matchroom Sport.
The Briton successfully defended his IBF world heavyweight title for a second time with another brutal demonstration of his power punching to claim an 18th stoppage win from as many professional bouts at the Manchester Arena.
Joshua forced the stoppage in two minutes, two seconds of the third round after first flooring American Molina with a right.
Klitschko, the former world No 1 who lost three titles on points to Joshua’s fellow Briton Tyson Fury last year, was ringside to check on Joshua and could not have failed to have been impressed. Klitschko – 41 in March – and Joshua are being lined up to meet on April 29 at Wembley Stadium in London, and the Ukrainian will be a big step up in class to Molina.
Joshua, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist, made a measured start and was content to take his time behind his jab in the first two rounds, before unleashing his power punches early in the third round.
Molina, 34, looked comfortable for most of the first round, except for a ramrod jab that rocked him back on to his heels. Joshua, 27, boxed cautiously in the second round as well, catching Molina at close range with a left uppercut but he did give the challenger anything to be concerned about until the third round. Joshua unloaded with more venom in the third and then caught Molina flush with a right to the jaw in the American’s corner.
Molina only just beat the count and when the action resumed Joshua landed a quick flurry of punches which was enough for referee Steve Gray to call the fight off. Molina lasted nine rounds with Deontay Wilder, who holds the WBC version of the world title, before his fellow American knocked him out last year. But Joshua got the job done quicker and only two boxers have managed to take the north Londoner beyond three rounds.