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Eric Molina: I know I can hurt Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua

By Scott Gilfoid: Eric Molina (25-3, 19 KOs) will be challenging IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) for his title this Saturday night on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in what will be a packed house of Joshua supporters at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The Joshua and Molina fight will be televised on Showtime Championship Boxing in the States starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Molina, 34, is going to be out there pretty much by his lonesome with his training team and a tiny number of fans rooting for him on Saturday night. Molina doesn’t care, because he knows he can hurt the 6’6” Joshua if he hits him right.

Molina has a lot of top fighters in sparring before, and that’s why he knows he can hurt the 27-year-old Joshua as well. Molina plans on taking advantage of the mistakes that Joshua makes in the fight. The mistakes that Joshua makes are plentiful and there to be seen for anyone with their eyes open.

Joshua really likes to rush his opponents in the early going in looking for fast knockouts. That almost cost Joshua the fight against Dillian Whyte last year when he was staggered by a left hook from him. Joshua probably would have been knocked out in that fight if Whyte hadn’t injured his shoulder in the 2nd round. Luck was on Joshua’s side on that night. But if Joshua gets hurt by Molina, I wouldn’t count on him escaping from the moment like he did against Whyte, because Molina isn’t going to suffer an injury. He’s going to finish Joshua off just like he did with Tomasz Adamek in their recent fight last April.

Molina said this in commenting to skysports.com about how he’s improved as a heavyweight:

“I have grown into a very dangerous heavyweight,” said Molina. “There’s no other heavyweight in the world who could have gone through the things I’ve gone through to get here. I have a vision in my mind as to where (Joshua) makes mistakes and I have a vision as to where I am very, very dangerous. In my mind, those fit together so well.”

It’s pretty obvious what Joshua will do in this fight on Saturday. Joshua stands on the outside, throw his jabs and look for the right moment to throw a hard right hand or left hook. Molina can wait for Joshua to be first or he can jump on Joshua with hard 1-2 combinations that Mihai Nistor did in his 3rd round stoppage win over him in the 2011 in the European Amateur Boxing Championships. Nistor used an in an out attack to beat Joshua.

Roberto Cammarelle of Italy also arguably beat Joshua twice in the amateurs by using the same in an out attack. I thought Cammarelle was royally robbed in both of his fights against Joshua in the 2011 AIBA World Boxing Championships and in the 2012 London Olympics. Erislandy Savon and Ivan Dychko also appeared to beat Joshua in the 2012 London Olympics in my view. I thought the scoring was atrocious when it came to Joshua’s fights during that Olympics. I had Joshua losing all four of his fights. Molina has plenty of guys to watch in Joshua’s amateur days that will give him clues in how to beat him. You can’t look at the guys that Joshua has fought since he’s turned pro for hints in how to beat him, because his promoter Eddie Hearn has matched him against such weak opposition. Joshua hasn’t faced anymore remotely as good as the guys he was facing in his championships in 2011 and in the 2012 Olympics.

“I don’t feel Dillian Whyte is a big puncher. He’s a good fighter but he’s not a big puncher, so I know if he can hurt (Joshua, as he did in their 2015 fight), I can,” said Molina.

Whyte used to have a good left hook before he suffered a shoulder injury. It’s not really fair to judge Whyte on his power right now, because the power hasn’t come back in his left since the surgery. Whyte is now strictly a right hand puncher, and he doesn’t have good power in his right. If Whyte ever gets his power back in his left arm, he’ll be dangerous. But in the Joshua-Whyte fight, Whyte had the power in his left hook for exactly two rounds. He injured his shoulder in the 2nd after nailing Joshua with the shot that staggered him. Molina definitely has more punching power than Whyte in both hands.

What makes Whyte difficult to fight is his fearlessness. He’s not afraid to throw his power shots, because he doesn’t mind getting hit and he trusts his chin. Molina is too timid. That’s his problem. If you watch Molina’s recent fight against Adamek, he gave away most if the first nine rounds by not throwing punches. Molina fought like he was afraid to get hit. It wasn’t until the 10th round that Molina suddenly went for broke and unloaded on Adamek with some right hands that hurt him. Molina fought the same way in his losses to Deontay Wilder and Chris Arreola. Molina sometimes threw power shots, but he mostly just looked awed by those fighters. Molina gave them too much respect, and this allowed them to do pretty much whatever they pleased.
If Molina goes after Joshua in the first two rounds like he did against Adamek in the 10th, then I think Molina will have a decent chance of knocking him out.

I wouldn’t say that Molina will have a great chance of knocking Joshua out, but he could get the job done if he fights with a purpose. If it was me, they’d have to pull me off of Joshua. I’d be swinging for the fences from the opening round, and I wouldn’t wait for instant. Why wait? If you wait on Joshua, he’s just going to measure you for a right hand or a left hook. Who needs that? You’ve got to be first if you want to beat Joshua, because if you don’t, he’ll hurt you. Once Joshua hurts his opponents, he then rushes them like he used to and gets them out of there quickly. The trick is to attack Joshua like Cammarelle and Nistor did to get the better of him. Those guys would get out of range when not punching. When they wanted to punch, they’d come forward and light Joshua up with power shots. That’s what Molina needs to do.


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