Anthony Joshua has been warned not to take his eye off the ball against Eric Molina next month. The IBF heavyweight champion - who is set to defend his title against the unheralded Mexican-American at the Manchester Arena on 10 December - has been guaranteed a money-spinning bout against Wladimir Klitschko, provided he comes through unscathed against Molina.
Joshua, 27, held talks with the former champion about a fight in December, but the negotiations collapsed when Klitschko suffered a minor calf injury. The Brit's promoter Eddie Hearn has implored his charge to remain focused on the task at hand, rather than allowing himself to be distracted by the potential Klitschko bout in 2017.
"The Klitschko fight is there, but at the same time, he's also got to beat Eric Molina," Hearn told IBTimes UK at a pre-fight press conference. "Molina went nine rounds with [WBC champion] Deontay Wilder, he's a good fighter."
Hearn believes Molina, 34, to be a more credible opponent than Dominic Breazeale, who challenged the Brit for the heavyweight title in June. Breazeale was knocked out in the seventh round of that contest and Hearn has suggested Molina might put up a better fight.
"I think he is a better fighter than Dominic Brazeale," he shared. "I think it's a tougher fight than AJ's last defence. So in that respect, I think it's a solid fight. I don't think he'll overlook Molina. He'll put that fight to the side, because if he doesn't beat Molina then the Klitschko fight is not happening anyway."
The 10 December card in Manchester also features London 2012 gold medallist Katie Taylor, who recently signed with Hearn's Matchroom Boxing. The Irishwoman is the first female fighter to sign with the Matchroom stable and Hearn is excited by her prospects in the professional ranks.
"The response has been sensational," Hearn said. "Everyone wants to watch and see what she's got. She's entertaining. She's a great fighter, forget that she's female. She's a great fighter to watch and it's not going to be women's boxing and men's boxing. You know, it's integrated into one night."