By John J. Raspanti
Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) retained his IBF heavyweight title Saturday night with an easy third round TKO over outgunned Eric Molina (25-4, 19 KOs) at the Manchester Arena in London, England.
If challenger Molina had a game plan entering the match, it wasn’t apparent. He backed into the ropes in the opening stanza and languished like a prisoner awaiting the executioner to pull the switch.
Joshua flipped on the switch immediately. He strafed Molina with blows.
Molina continued this pattern in the second round. Joshua jabbed and fired. Molina blocked a blow or two, but didn’t fire back.
Joshua came out with a touch more intensity in Round three. Maybe he wanted to impress former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who watched from ringside.
Near the two-minute mark, a huge right hand sent Molina crashing to the canvas. The full-time high school teacher courageously pulled himself up at the count of eight, but within seconds three jolting left uppercuts and a right hand had him back on a queer street.
Referee Steve Gray jumped in and stopped the contest.
The time was 2:02 of the third round.
The popular Joshua will face Klitschko next April at Wembley Stadium in England. A capacity crowd of 80,000 is expected
Joseph Parker (22-0, 18 KOs) fulfilled a childhood dream by becoming the first heavyweight champion from New Zealand with a razor-thin 12-round majority decision over Andy Ruiz (29-1, 19 KOs) at the Vector Arena, Auckland, New Zealand.
Judges Ramon Cerdan and Ingo Barrabas scored the fight 115-113 for Parker, while Salven Lagumbay had it 114-114, a draw.
Maxboxing had Parker winning the bout by 115-113 tally.
Parker began the fight sticking out his jabs. A few landed, but Ruiz did better on the inside. The portly American’s hand speed was impressive in Rounds two and three.
Ruiz went to the body, but finally started to pay for it in Rounds four and five. Parker had found his rhythm.
He fired triple jabs, followed by a right hand. He also landed a number of shots to the midsection. Ruiz followed but wasn’t punching back.
Parker was in control in the next few rounds. Ruiz would occasionally clock him with a right, but Parker was the busier boxer. Parker connected with a jolting left uppercut in Round seven. Ruiz took it well, but didn’t fight back.
Ruiz began to rally in Round nine. He pressed Parker, and let his hands go. Parker fought back, but Ruiz was doing well.
Both fighters traded heavy shots in Rounds 10 and 11. The last round was fought evenly. Parker’s flurry in the last seconds likely gave him the edge.
“Wow! What a dream come true,” Parker said in the ring. “We told you guys Andy Ruiz was a great fighter, with a lot of speed and a lot power. He showed that tonight.”