Saturday 10th December. Sky Box Office. Coverage starts at 5PM
This time 12 months ago, most people thought Anthony Joshua would enter 2017 on the verge of knocking on the door of a heavyweight title. But after being fast-tracked in what has been a bizarre 2016, he could end the year having won and defended the IBF crown twice.
The British superstar still has one hurdle to clear in the form of the experienced Eric Molina in what should be one the toughest challenges of his 18-fight career. With several fascinating bouts on the undercard too, it should be a fantastic evening from the Manchester Arena.
Let’s get ready to rumble.
Chisora & Whyte Top Fascinating Undercard
Saturday’s undercard boasts a number of intriguing bouts but the big fight between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte has caught public attention to an even greater level than the headline event. Frankly, it should be explosive.
Tuesday’s showing of the infamous Gloves Are Off only further intensified those tensions and fan excitement, as did Wednesday’s explosive press conference. While both men have lost big bouts in the past, they each have the power in their arsenal to cause real damage. With so much animosity between the pair, it should deliver fireworks.
Whyte provided Joshua with his biggest test by far, though, and should retain his British title with a 20th professional victory. We expect him to do it well within the distance.
As for the other bouts on the card, it’s well worth keeping an eye out for Conor Benn against Josh Thorne while Scott Quigg will aim to bounce back from his loss to Carl Frampton by beating Jose Cayetano for the vacant WBA international featherweight title.
It’s a mouth-watering undercard that should build nicely towards a huge headline bout.
Can Joshua Defend IBF Crown In Style?
There’s no question that 2016 has been a phenomenal year for Joshua, but Saturday’s title defence isn’t solely about racking up an 18th win. With talks of a potential Wembley bout against Wladamir Klitschko in 2017 gaining momentum, it’s important that the title-holder wins in style.
Molina did lose to Deontay Wilder back in 2015, but did show resilience in that fight. The American additionally hurt the WBC champion on at least a couple of occasions. Drummer Boy’s impressive stoppage of Tomasz Adamek would also underline that he isn’t in England simply to pick up the purse in the same fashion as Charles Martin. In truth, he’s more likely to provide the same challenge as Dominic Breazeale, only with a little more in the attacking locker.
Nobody will be expecting him to cause an upset, but he could provide Joshua with the sort of test that the Brit needs. And as Molina has said himself, it only takes one punch to change the course of a fight.
Nevertheless, Joshua is the heavy favourite for a reason. It took Wilder nine rounds to get Molina out; we think the IBF champ can do it a little quicker but expect the challenger to at least take it past the opening four rounds. We’ll be backing Joshua in rounds 5-8.