Eric Molina: ‘Anthony Joshua can win, between rounds six and nine’
You can understand that he would be mightily impressed, after the guy showed all the attributes, the speed, the power, the combination punching, all which powers that be are hoping will launch him into a zone that hasn’t had much business of late, on Saturday.
Eric Molina was up close and felt personally how skilled IBF heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua is, as the Texas-based heavyweight succumbed to the bomb-throwing Brit in round three of their encounter, last December.
The American came in confident but not much time elapsed before he changed his tune: This guy is a beast, Molina knew, and he couldn’t keep the predator at bay long enough to get any offense going. It was the sort of decimation which, if replicated to a degree against former world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London, while 90,000 plus patrons roar in approval, will make Joshua a certified boxing star.
Like I said, that zone hasn’t had much business of late. Floyd Mayweather Jr., he’s certified. His paychecks attest to his star power, to his status in the sport and beyond, as he’s someone who’s known outside of our niche realm. Joshua could edge into that territory, if he does what Molina thinks he’s capable of Saturday, in a bout which will screen live in the U.S. on Showtime and then later on tape delay, for HBO subscribers.
“I think Joshua can win, between rounds six and nine,” Molina told me on Wednesday, kindly taking time out from celebrating his 35th birthday with family. “I don’t want to disrespect Klitschko but the combinations, the speed, the power; it’s very hard to understand it until you see it in front of you. I think Anthony will be way too strong, too big and, in every fight, he’s getting stronger, better, faster. The speed and the power,” Molina marveled. “I think he takes over in six to nine, those rounds, with speed and power.”
We debated some whether Klitschko has been diminished by aging. Was he aging when he defeated Bryant Jennings in New York, in April 2015, but admitted afterward that there was much room for improvement? Was aging making things difficult when Klitschko was unable to remove gun from holster in so many minutes of so many rounds against Tyson Fury, in his most recent outing, in November 2015…or did it have more to do with seeing a bigger man with some solid skills negating his talents? Maybe both, Molina and I decided. Wlad threw 231 punches over 12 rounds and, I’m sorry, I refuse to believe Tyson Fury is really all that, to the degree that his supposed skill set rendered Wlad that ineffective. Wlad landed 52 punches over 12 rounds…Lord, do that math and then weep.
It could be that the 27-year-old Joshua is catching Klitschko at the sweetest time, from the stance of the up-and-comer. Wlad could be, despite professing to be in obsessed mode, bodily unable to answer the requests from his brain. Wlad waited, looked at feints, searched for pockets of time when he’d be able to launch and land…and grabbed and clinched and was just never threatening to be the offensive force in the ring against Fury. He will need to be a completely different version, come Saturday in London.
Joshua is getting better and better at throwing with power, staying balanced and composed, and able to follow up with more fury. The quickness with which he clips a foe with his left, in the third punch of a combo, if the 41-year-old Wlad really has aged out from being an A-side caliber heavyweight, that could make things ugly for the ultra-vet.
The sport, really, should be rooting for Joshua to be what Molina says he is, and for him to bowl us over with a conclusive stoppage of the Hall of Fame-bound Klitschko. Mainstream media will cover the tango and, yes, if we have ourselves a heavyweight hitter who both looks and acts the part of heavyweight champion, our sport will enjoy an uptick in popularity and resonance.
Note: You can hear what another veteran heavyweight, Monte Barrett, thinks will occur at Wembley. Barrett spoke to me on “TALKBOX” this week.
Yes, mainstream media will cover the tango known as Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko but, when it comes to the boxing media, the multi-tasker known as Michael Woods IS the tango. Keep on dancing, Woodsy…keep on dancing.
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