Joshua to fight Klitschko in April after easy defense

Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:30am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Anthony Joshua set up an April showdown with veteran heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday after retaining his IBF world title with a clinical third round stoppage of outclassed American Eric Molina in Manchester.

After two probing opening rounds, 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Joshua sent his opponent crashing to the canvas for his 18th win inside the distance in as many professional fights.

Molina, 34, clambered unsteadily back to his feet as the count reached eight, but the referee stepped in again to stop the fight after two minutes and two seconds of the round with a technical knockout declared.

The Texan had fought for the world title once before, losing to Deontay Wilder for the WBC belt in 2015.

Moments after the fight, promoter Eddie Hearn stepped into the ring to announce an April 29 bout against Ukrainian Klitschko at London's Wembley Stadium for the "unified heavyweight championship of the world".

That can be taken as hyperbole, much as Hearn's assertion that it would be the "biggest fight in British boxing history", with New Zealander Joseph Parker the newly-crowned WBO champion while American Wilder still holding the WBC belt.

Britain's Tyson Fury, who beat Klitschko in November 2015, vacated the WBA and WBO belts in October after having his license suspended pending investigation of anti-doping and medical issues.

He had already been stripped of the IBF belt for not fighting a mandatory challenger.   Continued...

Boxing Britain - Anthony Joshua v Eric Molina IBF World Heavyweight Title - Manchester Arena - 10/12/16 Anthony Joshua celebrates after knocking down Eric Molina Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge Livepic