Anthony joshua v eric molina back another early night for aj

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Matchroom Sports present a blockbuster Saturday night of boxing at the Manchester Arena, headlined by Anthony Joshua's latest defence of his IBF world heavyweight title. Eric Molina provides the opposition, but punters seem convinced this will be a straightforward AJ win.

Support comes in the form of some major domestic names, no less a battle that threatens to overshadow the main event in Dereck Chisora vs Dillian Whyte. Scott Quigg, Callum Smith and Katie Taylor are all involved in a stunning cast. As far as early Christmas presents go to fight fans, this one is sugar coated. Let's see if we can't make it a night to remember for punters too.

Joshua famously won the IBF strap when beating Charles Martin at the 02 Arena back in April and made his first defence a successful one when scalping Dominic Breazeale last time out at the same venue. Both men were previously undefeated. They are not anymore.

The 6ft 6in orthodox from Watford now stands with a professional record of 17 fights, 17 wins, 17 knockouts. You can't ask for any more than that from your prospects and although there are critics out there who believe he has been handled with kid-gloves in terms of matchmaking so far, his team have actually been a lot more confident than some of the past heavyweight world champions have at this stage of their careers.

Another Joshua win has been priced up as [1.06] favourite on the Exchange, and although that's tight enough, it represents real value when you compare it to what is on offer elsewhere in the market. The jolly maintaining his 100% knockout ratio will also prove popular in the pre-bout betting tips, with 1/14 available courtesy of the Sportsbook. The 27-year-old has never asked the judges for a favour, but winning on points is 9/1.

Opponent Eric Molina will duck between the ropes almost friendless on the night, having made the journey from his base in Texas. The 34-year-old arrives with a record of 25 wins against three defeats, and with each of those losses coming inside the distance, punters fear the worst for our guest, who is making only his second outing outside of his homeland.

Molina was last seen beating Tomasz Adamek in Poland in what was, arguably, his most impressive win to date, battering the vastly experienced home fighter into submission in 10 rounds. Since being stopped by Deontay Wilder in nine in 2015, Molina has won each of his two comeback bouts by KO/TKO, and a third is 14/1, while a points win on foreign soil is unlikely to attract much attention, even with 22/1 doing the rounds. The invader to win by any method is 12/1. That tells a story in itself.

It's always enjoyable watching Anthony Joshua progress. He is the real deal, in my eyes anyway, and is coming on with every fight. The Englishman won a world title earlier than I thought he would, and has been brutal in stopping every man placed in front of him. Having said that, I struggle to see how they justify making this fight on the pay-per-view platform. Eddie Hearn is doing himself and his fighter no favours, seriously restricting who can follow his rise to the top of the game. I'm sure he could walk down many high-streets unnoticed, whereas past champions such as Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno wouldn't have that luxury.

Molina was stopped by Deontay Wilder and won two comeback bouts since. He has been KO'd three times already. Is that worth a world title shot with the public being flogged a competitive match-up? Not in my book. I see Joshua winning this, of course, and the only bit of value around looks to be a little play on Joshua to win in round two at 7/2. That would have been a winning bet in eight of his previous fights. Round one has popped up four times and is 4/1 while round three has been three times and is also 4/1. Punters could spread their stake evenly, or have a go on the second round, which has been most popular.

Taking a brief look at the undercard and, in particular, Dereck Chisora vs Dillian Whyte. These two couldn't possibly do anything in the ring that would upstage their press conference antics, which, at one point, saw Del Boy throw a table at his opponent. Wow, it's all getting a bit American wrestling on us. Personally, I think anyone disgracing the sport acting like that should be made an example of and banned. No pay, no fight, not to be encouraged. But I am speaking as a mere fan!

In terms of a fight winner, I would side with Dillian Whyte at [1.36] on the Exchange. In terms of quality he has done little outside of that nervy encounter with Joshua, in which he failed to put his long-term rival away despite having him in trouble, but he is trained by Team Tibbs and that gives him the edge.

I shared the TKO Gym in London with Jimmy and Mark Tibbs in the early part of my professional career and they are real experts in the field. If they can't help him get the win, no one can. They also know Chisora inside-out, which will be a big positive on fight night.

Recommended Bet

Back Anthony Joshua to stop Eric Molina in Round Two at 7/4 on the Sportsbook