UPDATE: Eric Molina told me that Anthony Joshua is the real deal, levels better than anything he's seen. “I had an off night,” he acknowledged, mentioning that the Brit was quite strong.
The Texan said time will tell if age, or accumulated punishment or being rusty or being off were the main culprit in this disappointing evening. “I'm disappointed but what can I do? Tested the limits and got knocked out.”
He was aiming to get untracked and open up around the fourth or fifth, but a bull strong athlete made the best laid plans moot. “I need to rest my body well,” Molina said, “and see what happens next.”
Anthony Joshua looked a beast in Manchester, England on Saturday evening, and on Showtime, facing Eric Molina, who never got even half untracked.
In the third, a right cross sent Molina to the mat, after he got backed into a corner. He slowly rose and beat the count, at 8, but not for long.
The IBF title holder AJ hopped on him, slammed home four lefts and a right, basted him, there would be no defending against this; and ref hopped in, and the TKO came at 2:02.
Wladimir Klitschko came into the ring post win, and Hearn said Wlad vs Joshua will unfurl April 29 at Wembley Stadium.
“Congratulations to you, champ, you got it,” said Wlad, to AJ.
Do you want to see a big fight..two Olympic champs…AJ vs WK, he asked the crowd. Yes, they replied, reasonably excited.
“Klitschko wants his belts back, may the best man win,” AJ said.
Wlad called AJ the best in the division, right now, quite humbly.
The Brit Joshua (promoted my Eddie Hearn; age 27, pro for three years; won gold at 2012 Olympics) came in 17-0 with 17 KOs and needing a win to fulfill a contract to fight Wladimir Klitschko, the lion from the previous generation of heavyweight aces who wants to declare that 40 isn’t fatal. Rob McCracken ex Carl Froch, was in the corner as head trainer for the first time with AJ.
Molina (25-3 entering, with 19 KOs; started boxing at 22, age 34) has been a part time fighter, as he’s worked as a special ed teacher at a Texas HS. He was able to do a pretty full camp so he thought coming in he’d be in a decent position to win. He told the world that he’d need and would look to go for the KO to exit England with a W.
In the first, a left hook told Molina that AJ was strong, late, after Molina was static and looking to maybe get warm. AJ (below, in Matchroom pic) oved forward as Molina backed up, watched, focused on defense.
In the second, Molina was a tad more offensive but he was waiting and looking not to get hit. He ate an uppercut, a left upper as he backed out, and it was a solid connect.
In the third, the ref told Molina not to hold. Then AJ started cracking. He scored a knockdown, and Molina got up slowly. He ate a couple more and the ref hopped in.