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Anthony Joshua to face Eric Molina Dec. 10

Photo courtesy of Matchroom Boxing.

With talks with Wladimir Klitschko collapsing, Anthony Joshua has turned his attention to a high school teacher with a wicked left hook for an opponent.

Joshua will make the second defense of his IBF championship against Eric Molina on Dec. 10 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England on the Showtime network, it was announced on Tuesday. Heavyweight Luis Ortiz, who holds a secondary title and recently signed with Matchroom Boxing, is also penciled in to appear on the Dec. 10 undercard, provided he emerges unscathed from his fight with Malik Scott on Nov. 12 in Monte Carlo.

Molina (25-3, 19 knockouts) is a full-time high school teacher who is best known for wobbling WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder in the third round with a left when they met last year. He was knocked out in the ninth but has since won two straight, stopping a faded Tomasz Adamek in April and doing the same to journeyman Rodricka Ray in October of 2015.

Sill, Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) will be heavily favored against the 34-year-old Molina, who has been knocked out in all three of his losses and will be happy to engage the overpowering Joshua, which isn’t really the best way to deal with the mammoth heavyweight. Despite his obvious advantages, the former Olympic gold medalist labeled the bout with Molina the biggest test of his career. Joshua is now targeting the spring for a bout with Klitschko, who pulled out of negotiations for next month, citing a minor calf injury and a need for more time to promote the fight.

“I am pleased that everything is now set for December 10 and I can concentrate on getting the business done in the ring,” Joshua said in prepared remarks. “I saw Molina have a great fight with Wilder and he is now coming off a strong KO win against Adamek in Poland. I’m expecting this to be the toughest fight of my career so far and I will be ready for an all-out war.”

Molina pointed to his tenacity and ability to come back from a number of professional setbacks as a reason he’s a threat to Joshua. He was knocked out in his pro debut by Ashanti Jordan in 2007 and was destroyed by Chris Arreola, also in the first round in 2012 only to claw his way back into heavyweight relevance.

“There is no heavyweight in the world that has bounced back like I have,” Molina said in  the press release. “That’s the man that Joshua faces on December 10 and that man is a very dangerous one. He’ll fight the toughest Molina that anybody has ever seen, just like Adamek fought the toughest Molina. I’m confident.”

Dillian Whyte, who once challenged Joshua, is set to defend his British heavyweight title against London rival and former title challenger Dereck Chisora in a WBC eliminator in the card’s co-feature. Former junior featherweight titleholder Scott Quigg is also scheduled to return from a broken jaw he suffered in his loss to Carl Frampton in his featherweight debut. An opponent has not been announced. Luis Concepcion, a 115-pound titleholder, will defend his strap against Birmingham’s Khalid Yafai in another undercard bout on Dec. 10. And former amateur Irish star Katie Taylor is also scheduled to appear.


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