After months of speculation and uncertainty, the identity of British heavyweight Anthony Joshua's next opponent has finally been officially revealed. The 2012 Olympic gold medallist, who destroyed Charles Martin earlier this year to win the IBF title previously stripped from Tyson Fury before seeing off the surprisingly resilient challenge of Dominic Breazeale in June, will make it a hat-trick of Americans as he defends his belt for the second time against Eric 'Drummer Boy' Molina at the Manchester Arena on 10 December.
Joshua was initially expected to face Wladimir Klitschko on that date following the second postponement of the latter's long-awaited rematch with Fury, with negotiations said to be all but done. However, confirmation of such a high-profile doubt was initially delayed while the two parties awaited sanctioning from the WBA and a decision as to whether or not their strap would be on the line. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn later revealed that Klitschko was also suffering from a minor calf injury and claimed it would be "unrealistic to put together a fight of this magnitude and give it the full build-up it deserves" in just six weeks. The two men are now likely to square off in either March or April 2017.
In Mexican-American Molina, knockout specialist Joshua, who had been called out by David Price, is facing a man whose record from 28 fights stands at 25 victories and 19 KOs. The 34-year-old was beaten on his professional debut by Ashanti Jordan back in 2007 and also suffered a quick defeat to Chris Arreola in early 2012 before bouncing back to earn a shot at the WBC gold last summer.
He was knocked down four times in a nine-round defeat to Deontay Wilder and later returned to the ring to stop Rodricka Ray. The Lyford native won the vacant IBF inter-continental heavyweight title with a win over Poland's Tomasz Adamek in April, his first fight held outside of the United States.
While Joshua vs Molina may well prove to be something of an underwhelming main event, the undercard provides plenty of intrigue with British rivals Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora set to go toe-to-toe in a WBC heavyweight eliminator after their very public and expletive-laden war of words.
Female boxing star Katie Taylor is also expected to feature in a second professional bout that follows on quickly from her Matchroom debut due to take place on 26 November, while Scott Quigg makes his first appearance since losing his WBA belt via a split decision to long-time rival Carl Frampton in a disappointing super-bantamweight unification showdown at the same venue in February. The Bury boxer, who is due to move up to featherweight against an as of yet unknown opponent, later underwent surgery to fix a broken jaw.
Also on the schedule is another appearance for the newly-signed Luis Ortiz, who takes on Malik Scott in Monte Carlo later this month, and a WBA super-flyweight tussle between Kal Yafai and Luis Concepcion. Frank Buglioni is also set to challenge Hosea Burton for his British light heavyweight crown.