Joshua beats Molina and sets up Klitschko date

Anthony Joshua

Britain’s Anthony Joshua successfully defended his IBF heavyweight title with a third-round stoppage of Eric Molina in Manchester.

Joshua, who was making the second defence of his belt, knocked the American down with a short right before the referee waved the fight off.

The 27-year-old now has 18 knockouts from as many fights and will face former heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium on 29 April.

“This is the step-up people have wanted,” said Joshua. “Klitschko wants his belts back and may the best man win.”

Klitschko

Klitschko, who lost his WBA, IBF and WBO belts to Tyson Fury last year, stepped through the ropes to speak to Joshua.

“He is the best man in the division and the excitement speaks for itself,” said the Ukraine fighter. “This is what the fans want and this fight must happen.”

On a busy night of boxing, Dillian Whyte beat Dereck Chisora via a split decision in a stirring WBC heavyweight title eliminator, Britain’s Kal Yafai won the WBA super-flyweight title and Katie Taylor won her second professional fight.

The Manchester Arena was a 21,000 sell-out and those in attendance also included former heavyweight world champions Shannon Briggs and David Haye, and WBC cruiserweight world champion Tony Bellew.

Anthony Joshua

The first round of the main event featured little action, although Joshua did land with a good left hook on the bell.

With Molina content to spoil, Joshua found it difficult to get off his shots in the second but he finally found his range in the third, with a devastating outcome.

With Molina pinned in the corner, Joshua chopped him down with a short overhand right and it was a minor miracle that he managed to regain his feet.

But the American only lasted a few more seconds, referee Steve Gray calling a halt to proceedings as Joshua was raining blows upon the challenger.

Before the fight, Molina said WBC champion Deontay Wilder, with whom he lasted nine rounds last year, was the hardest puncher in the division. Having felt the full force of Joshua’s fists, he might have changed his mind.

Eric Molina

I took him out like I should – Joshua

“It was slow, patient and calculating. You are dealing with someone who is not giving you many options, so I had to create them and I once I saw it I managed to connect properly and knocked him out,” said Joshua.

“He had maybe two shots, but he is not a Kiltschko, he is not a Haye, he is not all of these other fighters.

“That’s why I don’t get too hyped, that’s why I took him out like I should. I am going to keep on handling business like I should.

“The belt doesn’t represent me, it’s how you deal with people, how you represent yourself as a champion. The belt is a sign of a champion but what makes a champion is the things I have just said.”

Joshua will be my defining fight – Klitschko

“AJ did his job. I’m happy he won, that was my wish. There is no other fight to do but this one between us.

“I was watching, observing, making my notes. I’m really looking forward to this fight. I am a fan of his talent, he can unify the division and be a great champion.

“My guns are cocked. They’ve been cocked for a year. Nothing personal, but it’s business.

“My hall of fame coach Emmanuel Stewart said ‘one day you will have a signature fight’. This is the fight he was talking about. It is something outstanding.”

Anthony Joshua

Analysis – ‘Joshua’s punches were devastating’

BBC Sport boxing expert Richie Woodhall

That was a tremendous performance. Joshua opened his opponent up and then caught him with speed, accuracy and power.

Molina tried to shield his jaw away from that right hand but it came through like a missile and bounced off his chin.

What was most impressive for me, he didn’t just go tearing in there all guns blazing, making mistakes. He did it very sensibly. He knew his opponent could come back with the odd right hand but his own punches were devastating.

I have got to say, the referee should have stopped it earlier – the kid took two or three heavy shots that he shouldn’t have taken.

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BBC Sport – Sport

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