Anthony Joshua Takes Out Eric Molina: Fight Breakdown
By: Phil Oscarson
Anthony Joshua took care of business against Eric Molina on December 11, 2016 with a third-round knockout win. The win sets him up for a massive showdown against Wladimir Klitschko. How did Joshua take out the hard-hitting veteran Molina? With patience and constant, effective pressure.
How Joshua and Molina Matched Up
While both men are legitimate heavyweights with size and punching power, Joshua is the larger of the two, with a 2-inch height and 3-inch reach advantage. He won an Olympic gold medal and carried a perfect 17-0 record with 17 KO’s into the fight. Molina, in comparison, was 25-3, and he earned the matchup with Joshua based on his KO of Tomasz Adamek in a fight he was losing to that point.
The punch stats were certainly in Joshua’s favor, as they show he throws and lands more punches per round. For this and his superior track record, betting sites had Joshua as a big favorite coming into this match.
The Story of the Fight
Molina said after the fight that his plan was to weather the storm for the first three or four rounds. That was obvious in the first round, as he was content to sit along the ropes and defend against Joshua’s punches. The problem was that he offered little in the way of resistance. He would occasionally throw out a couple jabs, but for the most part, he was a sitting duck. He wasn’t attacking, he wasn’t countering, and all too often he stood directly in front of Joshua.
Joshua fought a smart fight, picking his spots and never getting overly aggressive. He used his jab often, and then feinted a jab to set up the left hook. When Molina covered up, he went downstairs and drilled him with right hands to the body. The few times Molina did attack, Joshua smoothly stepped back out of range, and then threw shots of his own. Towards the end of the first round, Joshua feinted the jab and nailed Molina with a beautiful left hook on the jaw, rocking the challenger.
In the second and third rounds, Molina opened up a bit more with his right hand. However, he never landed anything significant or threatening, and Joshua still controlled the majority of the action. Joshua also started incorporating the left uppercut in the second round, giving Molina something else to worry about, particularly when he ducked to avoid punches.
With Joshua’s precision and Molina’s lack of offense, it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the fight ended. Midway through the third round, Joshua tested Molina with a couple feints before opening up with a flurry. Molina got pinned against the ropes, and Joshua unleashed a 2-3-2 (a straight right hand, a left hook, and another straight right hand). The first two punches missed, but the third was right on the money, and in this case Joshua only needed one. The brutal punch put Molina on his back against the ring post.
To his credit, Molina got up to fight on, but he was in survival mode and Joshua knew it. The IBF champion started opening up, and after a few particularly hard left hooks and left uppercuts, the referee mercifully jumped in to stop the fight.
It was a masterful performance for Joshua, who showcased his power, speed, and technical skills. However, he was also facing an opponent who was clearly overmatched from the opening bell. His next match against Wladimir Klitschko is a significant step up in competition, against a fellow Olympic gold medalist with far more experience. Of course, with that experience comes age, and Klitschko is undoubtedly on the downside of his career. He also won’t have his customary size advantage, which could present issues. Their match will determine if Joshua can take the next step on the road to being a superstar.