JOSHUA PREPS FOR KLITSCHKO — Anthony Joshua successfully defended his IBF heavyweight title on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Manchester, dismissing Eric Molina in the third round. What was widely perceived as a mismatch was all that and more. During the first two rounds, Molina was disinclined to engage with Joshua. His body language indicated that he wished he were back home in Texas. Molina opened up in the third stanza and that played right into Joshua’s hands. A straight right to the jaw knocked Molina to the canvas with barely a minute remaining in the round. Molina got up at the count of nine, but Joshua pounced on him and finished the job.
Joshua has won all 18 of his pro fights by knockout. As a pro, he has answered the bell for only 44 rounds. His next go, however, doesn’t figure to be another blowout. After the fight, with Wladimir Klitschko in attendance, it was announced that Joshua’s third defense of his title would come against Klitschko at Wembley Stadium on April 29. In May of 2014, a match at Wembley between Carl Froch and George Groves was contested before a crowd that reportedly numbered 80,000, a British post-war attendance record for a boxing event. That record will be in jeopardy on April 29.
The Joshua-Molina mismatch was the main event of a 10-fight card that included five other fights scheduled for 12 rounds. Promising prospects Conor Benn and Katie Taylor opened the show. Benn, the 20-year-old son of former two-division world champion Nigel Benn, needed only 66 seconds to put away Steven Backhouse. Taylor, who had a storied amateur career, won her second pro fight in as many weeks, winning a 6-round decision over Switzerland-based Viviane Obenauf.
One of the scheduled 12-rounders produced an upset. Frank Buglioni unseated British light heavyweight champion Hosea Burton who faded in the homestretch and was stopped in the 12th round. Buglioni, who improved his ledger to 19-2-1 (15), was widely outpointed by Fedor Chudinov last year in a bid for Chudinov’s WBA 168-pound title. The win over the previously undefeated (18-0) Burton rejuvenates his career.
In other bouts of note, Khalid Yafai claimed the WBA 115-pound title with an unexpectedly one-sided decision over Panama’s Luis Concepcion, Callum Smith, perhaps the best 168-pound boxer in the world, improved to 22-0 with a brutal 10th round knockout of Luke Blackledge, Scott Quigg stopped Mexico’s Jose Cayetano in the ninth round, and undefeated Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz scored a 7th round TKO over David Allen in a bout scheduled for eight.
Last but not least, Dillian Whyte won a 12-round split decision over Dereck Chisora in a rip-snorter of a heavyweight bout that cushioned the disappointment that would follow when Eric Molina was effectively a no-show in the main event.
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