Joshua fancied to make it an early night
That’s all it will take to derail Anthony Joshua’s pathway to greatness, and it’s all that his Texan opponent Eric Molina has trained for ahead of Saturday night’s IBF World heavyweight title bout.
He’s even said so himself.
“We haven’t had long to train, but one thing you can do is train for a knockout punch, that’s the only way I can win and we’ve focused in on it, on the power shots that will take him out,” confessed the challenger after touching down in Manchester earlier in the week.
On the back of rocking WBC champ Deontay Wilder with a shuddering left hook in June 2015, and knocking Polish veteran Tomasz Adamek out with a big right in his last scrap, the 34-year-old isn’t being delusional.
The powerful Molina’s threat is a live one – even if it does feel extremely unlikely he will pull off the unthinkable. While the 14/1 odds on offer for a Joshua defeat by KO is appealing, I don’t envisage that as the outcome. Few would.
Molina has courage and a big heart. He may even be brave enough to go toe to toe, turning this scrap into an instant swing-fest, but the bottom line is the American is second-rate in the skills department. In three biggest fights of his career, the ‘Drummer Boy’ has been found wanting.
Yes, he beat the ageing Adamek last time out, but only after being behind on all the judges’ scorecards. His defence was all over the place when Wilder clubbed him to floor, and back in 2012, Molina’s wild start saw him decked in round one by Chris Arreola.
The smart money says he’s getting knocked out early once more
With a dream clash against Wladimir Klitschko in the offing, Joshua won’t want to mess around in Manchester. Blessed with a ruthless streak, Saturday’s clash presents him with an ideal opportunity to make a vicious statement. Yet another super-fast demolition will put doubts in the head of the legendary Ukrainian, and AJ knows it.
A generous Price Boost on a 2nd round knockout win for the champion is available at a tantalizing 9/2, and could be well worth flirting with; although I’m leaning towards a Round 4 KO for Joshua, that’s on offer at 11/2.
In the heavyweight division, guys like Molina always have a punchers’ chance, but with a mega fight on the horizon against Klitschko, I just don’t see Joshua fluffing his lines. He’ll attack with care early on. Then, when the moment is right for him to pick his spot, Joshua will nail it.
He always does.
Could Chisora v Whyte be a dreary grudge match?
A pumped-up Dereck Chisora always talks the talk, but it’s important to remember how long it is since he walked the walk.
‘Del Boy’s’ histrionics in the build-up to Saturday’s clash with Dillian Whyte – throwing a glass of water, and a table in his opponents’ direction in two separate, but equally volatile incidents – are not untypical of a man that struggles to hold his temper.
Unfortunately he is usually livelier out of the ring than in it.
Five and a half years have now elapsed since he went the distance against Vitali Klitschko with an impressive performance. In the ensuing period he’s beaten a host of journeymen in sluggish, workmanlike fashion, and lost to David Haye, Tyson Fury and Kubrat Pulev.
He’s decent enough, but not an elite heavyweight. Under the guidance of new trainer Mark Tibbs, the improving Whyte is busy reinventing himself. By contrast, he does have the potential to claim a world title belt in the future.
Once a slugger, ‘The Body Snatcher’ has displayed a far more circumspect style in recent bouts, using his superb jab to full advantage. Perhaps effected by his KO at the hands of Anthony Joshua, he is certainly less gung-ho than he used to be, and it has transformed him into a far more genuine contender.
Confident in his skill set, the Jamaican-born heavyweight is now willing to patiently dismantle opponents if that’s what it takes. Sometimes heated build-ups lead to flat fights, and my hunch is that this won’t be a classic. Chisora has durability, but Whyte is the younger, more talented boxer.