British heavyweight favourite Anthony Joshua puts his IBF world title on the line for the second time against Eric 'Drummer Boy' Molina at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night (10 December).
How to watch
Joshua vs Molina is available to watch live in the United Kingdom and Ireland on Sky Sports Box Office for £16.95. The card is set to get underway at 5.30pm GMT, with Joshua and Molina expected to ring walk some time after 10pm. TalkTalk TV customers can purchase the event via Box Office for £14.95.
As per Joshua's multi-fight deal with the cable and satellite television network, American fight fans can also view the bout on Showtime.
Having blasted through Charles Martin to claim a world title in only his 16th professional contest and breaking down the stubborn resistance of Dominic Breazeale at the O2 Arena in London, Joshua heads north to face his third consecutive American opponent. The overwhelming favourite to retain his IBF belt and seal an 18th straight knockout, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist will not take anything for granted ahead of a WBA-sanctioned spring 2017 showdown against Wladimir Klitschko.
Molina is far from your average fighter. Having earned a Master's degree in special education from the University of Texas at Brownsville, the Texan, promoted by the flamboyant Don King, hasbalanced his boxing career with teaching children with disabilities at Johnny G. Economedes High School in Edinburg. He took a leave of absence earlier this year, but plans to return to that job in the future.
With 25 victories from 28 professional fights, the high-point to date of Molina's career came in June 2015 when he challenged Deontay Wilder for the WBC world title. Although eventually stopped in the ninth, he earned plaudits for rocking the 'Bronze Bomber' with a big left hook in the third round. After that defeat, he won a domestic clash with Rodricka Ray and claimed the vacant IBF inter-continental strap with an entertaining 10th-round stoppage of Poland's former two-weight world champion Tomasz Adamek in Krakow.
While Joshua-Molina obviously has top billing on Saturday, the fight threatens to be overshadowed by the chief support on an impressive undercard – a grudge match between Joshua's old nemesis Dillian Whyte and heavyweight rival Dereck Chisora. A press conference eruption that saw 'Del Boy' take leave of his senses and launch a table initially put the meeting in danger, but the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) have determined that it will go ahead but without Whyte's British title on the line.
What the boxers have said
Anthony Joshua [via BBC Sport]: "Training has gone well, hard, but well. I'm getting more experience so understand the importance of training hard. I'm physically in the best shape I could be. Of course he has to train so I'm not worried what he is doing. I'm glad he is healthy, God willing I manage to do my job and crush him. It is a breaking down job, everyone is sharp in rounds one, two three, but it is about being clever. Later on in the rounds I will start breaking him down.
"We are bringing currency back to heavyweight boxing, and respect back to the division and everyone wants a piece of it. Training is not about preparing for Eric, it is only going to get tougher so we train as if we are preparing for five fights' time. I will make him look like a novice."
Eric Molina [via the Manchester Evening News]: "I am ready to get in the ring and get it on. Every fight there is a certain game plan. I fight differently in every fight. If you watch my last six or seven fights then you won't see the same Molina. I have specifically trained to land a specific knockout shot. That's the only way I can win.
"I don't have to convince anybody else. I want to test Joshua and see what he is about. I haven't thought too much about why people don't give me a chance. The critics and odds don't matter to me. It was the same thing in the Wilder fight, they gave me two rounds and I wasn't supposed to have a shot. I was supposed to lose to Adamek in Poland, so let them keep talking."
Joshua: 17 fights, 17 wins (17 knockouts)
- (W) Dominic Breazeale - knockout - June 2016
- (W) Charles Martin - technical knockout - April 2016
- (W) Dillian Whyte - knockout - December 2015
Molina: 28 fights, 25 wins (19 knockouts)
- (W) Tomasz Adamek - knockout - April 2016
- (W) Rodricka Ray - technical knockout - September 2015
- (L) Deontay Wilder - knockout - June 2015
As has been the case with Joshua throughout his career to date, this feels like another case of not if he can knockout his opponent but rather how quickly will he send him sprawling to the canvas. Molina's devastating debut loss to Ashanti Jordan and his 2012 defeat at the hands of Chris Arreola showed that he can be stopped quickly out of the gate, although he demonstrated impressive durability by lasting nine rounds with Wilder. The 34-year-old has also shown great courage to bounce back from each of those disappointments and clearly does not lack the necessary heart and determination.
Joshua's victory over Breazeale was the first time he has been taken beyond the third round. While he has the power to end this one in swift fashion, it is easy to see him again eager to get more rounds under his belt while taking a more measured and clinical approach. Joshua to win via KO in the fifth.
Odds (via Betfair)
Anthony Joshua 1/25
Eric Molina 16/1
Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora - eliminator for Wilder's WBC world title
Luis Concepcion vs Kal Yafai - for Concepcion's WBA super-flyweight world title
Callum Smith vs Luke Blackledge - for Smith's British super-middleweight title
Scott Quigg vs Jose Cayetano - for the vacant WBA international featherweight championship
Hosea Burton vs Frank Buglioni - for the vacant British light-heavyweight title
Luis Ortiz vs David Allen
Katie Taylor vs Viviane Obenauf
Marcus Morrison vs Harry Matthews
Conor Benn vs Josh Thorne