At the Manchester Arena, England, Joshua vs Molina lived up to…well, not a great deal. But that’s OK. No one with eyes firmly on the Heavyweight scene was expecting too much from this hollow title defense, so no one should be shocked by the one-sided beatdown that unfolded. Yes, Anthony Joshua obliterated a vastly overmatched – and terribly negative – Eric Molina, bagging an effortless 3rd round stoppage. Hey, at least this fight had an eventful undercard. Hallejulah.
Joshua, who made the third defense of his IBF strap, now improves to 18 wins, 18 knockouts, while Molina reduces to 25 wins, 4 defeats, 19 knockouts. The slope should be fairly slippery for Molina from here, but a career-high payday should make the licking wounds process a whole lot easier.
Joshua knocked down Molina with a crunching right in the first minute of the 3rd, leaving the big man plenty of time to bring down the curtain. Several savage punches later and the referee was diving in to rescue the ‘challenger’. And I use that word very loosely. While this exhibition won’t please too many casual boxing fans, Wladimir Klitschko entering the ring to announce an April 29th showdown with Joshua might have. So, Joshua vs Klitschko is officially on, folks. That’s the real headline tonight. And while I must admit to not having goosebumps on my neck – given Klitschko’s advancing age – that fight still represents a huge stepup for Joshua.
Joshua vs Molina: Undercard
- Khalid Yafai (21-0, 14 KO) burst onto the Junior Bantamweight world scene, dominating Luis Concepcion en route to capturing the WBA title. Scorecards came in at 120-108, 119-108 and 117-110, the first two being the more convincing. Yafai was in the driving seat all night long, getting off first, winning just about every exchange, and bettering his opponent in every department. Which, if you review the records of these guys previously, is kind of strange. Nothing should be taken away from Yafai, but you have to wonder what the story was with Concepcion (35-5, 24 KO) tonight. Yes, he’s a little undersized for the weight, but something seemed off. A full armory of punches, but no imagination behind them. It’ll soon become a talking point, no doubt.
- British Championships are renowned for producing memorable scraps, and gruelling war Burton vs Buglioni more than hit the mark. Frank Buglioni looked to be behind on the cards down the stretch, but managed to turn the tables, knocking down Hosea Burton in the 11th, and hard in the final round. Then came the stoppage, which was the exclamation point on a back-and-forth battle. Buglioni (19-2-1, 15 KO) may not be destined for world glory, but his relentless drive and bulldozing pressure paid dividends. Burton (18-1, 9 KO) was the better boxer, finding a home for his long right hand all night long, but Buglioni forced his inexperienced foe into the trenches. Surely something Burton and esteemed trainer Joe Gallagher had not expected. Rematch?
- Callum Smith was becoming frustrated by a gutsy, often spoiling Luke Blackledge, but managed to find a frightening one-punch knockout. Blackledge was dominated throughout the British Super Middleweight affair, getting dropped in the 3rd and 8th, and finding himself out cold courtesy of a monster left hook in the 10th. After receiving oxygen, Blackledge (22-3-2, 7 KO) managed to leave the ring on his own two feet, which was good to see. But, man, what a savage showcloser that was. Now it’s time for Smith (22-0, 17 KO) to zone in on the world scene where he’ll find greater challenges in the likes of James DeGale and George Groves.
- Well, I have to take back every derogative word I said in the buildup to Whyte vs Chisora. We’re not talking about a Fight of the Year candidate. We’re not talking world-class Heavyweights with big futures. But who cares? Dillian Whyte (20-1, 15 KO) and Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18 KO) produced one hell of a fan-friendly scrap, with Whyte edging the veteran slugger via Split Decision to take home the British title. Close scores of 115-114 (Chisora) and 115-113 twice were fair, with Boxing Base also seeing this toe-to-toe battle 115-113. Both fighters threw with bad intentions throughout, staggered each other on several occasions, and literally emptied their tanks. A gruelling war of attrition.
- Scott Quigg (32-1-2, 24 KO) crushed slick customer Jose Cayetano (20-5, 9 KO) in the 9th round of his Featherweight debut. Quigg had to work hard to dominate, but still sent enough shock waves thanks to a hellacious fight-ending right hand. Was this the Scott Quigg of old (pre-Carl Frampton loss)? Well, it feels like a no. But let’s reserve any strong judgements until his next outing comes along. Ring rust and some lingering doubts may have been present in Quigg tonight. He was also in with a very tricky, iron-chinned opponent in Cayateno, apparently born to make good fighters look bad. We’ll soon find out where Quigg stands on the big stage in 2017.
- Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23 KO) handed David Allen (9-2-1, 6 KO) his first stoppage defeat following a 7th round TKO. Allen was game, durable as expected, and actually overachieved (considering everyone – including this scribe – scoffed at the matchup when it was first announced). Allen hung tough for 6 rounds, but Ortiz soon went through the gears, turned up the violence, and unloaded the potent dynamite Matchroom Boxing have been promising since signing ‘King Kong’ in October.
- Katie Taylor (2-0, 1 KO) outpointed a rugged Viviane Obenauf (9-2, 4 KO) in their Featherweight 6-rounder. The referee saw the contest 60-53, which counted a 3rd round knockdown.
- Marcus Morrison (14-0, 10 KO) had to settle for a 6-round decision against journeyman Harry Matthews (14-22-2, 2 KO). The referee’s scorecard read 60-55 at the final bell, which keeps Morrison’s unbeaten Middleweight run on track.
- Conor Benn (6-0, 4 KO) opened up the night’s action, needing only one minute and loose change to blast through Steven Backhouse (1-5-1, 1 KO). Benn was in with an overmatched opponent – of course, this being his 6th pro outing – but he looked pretty sharp here, it must be said. Benn’s Junior Welterweight campaign continues.
Where would you like to see the victors of tonight’s Joshua vs Molina card head next, folks? Fire away in the comments!