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World at Joshua’s feet as he begins path towards monumental 2017 meeting with Klitschko

Lee Gormley | 10 December 2016

Joshua granted monumental meeting with Klitschko

In the space of just three years and 17 professional ring outings, Anthony Joshua has already shot to boxing stardom, adding a world heavyweight title to his 2012 Olympic Gold medal for Britain. Further down the line in 2017, the sport’s rampantly rising star has also been granted a monumental meeting with former division dominator Wladimir Klitschko.

A second-round stoppage success over America’s Charles Martin in April saw Joshua (17-0, 17 KOs) cap off a rapid rise to prominence as he clinched the IBF strap, before halting challenger Dominic Breazeale in his maiden defence two months later.

Joshua captured the IBF title when comfortably stopping Martin earlier this year.

Joshua captured the IBF title when comfortably stopping Martin earlier this year.

Following on from such comfortable bouts, which have propelled Joshua into the heavyweight limelight, the Watford-born champion has an obstacle in Eric Molina to deal with. He then faces his toughest test and most lucrative outing against a wounded animal in Ukraine’s former unified kingpin Klitschko.

Despite only being on the scene for three years and imminently going up against a man who won his first world title when Joshua was just 11 years old, the latter Briton will enter their colossal WBA sanctioned showdown as the early 4/6 favourite with Coral.

Such a price is a testament to Joshua’s swift soaring up the heavyweight ladder and he will take to the ring in Manchester on December 10th at 4/1 to make next challenger Molina his 18th consecutive stoppage victim in the first round, as unquestionably his highest profile foe waits on the horizon.

Passing of the heavyweight baton in 2017?

After a frustratingly prolonged period in which negotiations for a December meeting broke down and saw Molina step in as Joshua’s final opponent of 2016, the WBA responded by confirming the fight every boxing fan initially wanted to see this winter.

The defending champion must first overcome Molina before his awaited showdown with Klitschko.

The defending champion must first overcome Molina before his awaited showdown with Klitschko.

Instead, Joshua and Klitschko will go head-to-head in arguably the biggest possible heavyweight match-up there is available in the current climate, with the WBA Super title being up for grabs next spring. This being one of the straps former unified champion Tyson Fury vacated earlier in October.

With Fury taking time out of the sport to deal with issues outside of the ring, it leaves the man he conquered and the fighter seen as the heir to the heavyweight throne to battle for those belts next year.

Joshua now holds a glorious opportunity to step towards supremacy in the heaviest division and edge closer to superstardom in both America and the UK, with his upcoming clash with Klitschko potentially set to see a passing of the boxing baton.

Klitschko was dethroned by Fury in 2015 but has the chance to return to glory next year.

Klitschko was dethroned by Fury in 2015 but has the chance to return to glory next year.

Fury’s heroics last year in Germany cannot be discounted. His incredible efforts to dethrone a fighter who had reigned for a decade as king see him now simply cast unofficially as the champion in recess, willing to eventually return and reclaim what was once deservedly his.

Although, with Fury thankfully sorting out his problems, in the meantime Joshua can potentially reign supreme in his absence. He is an overwhelming front-runner to topple Molina, 9/4 to stop him in rounds 4-6, and set up the chance of gaining a defining career triumph over ‘Dr Steelhammer’ in 2017.

AJ focused on dealing with Molina

All the talk now is focused on next year’s super-fight, but for Joshua he must first overcome whatever threat that is posed from Texas-born contender Molina, who is 12/1 to cause an upset and scupper any Klitschko bout.

The early Joshua v Klitschko odds see the former leading the way as favourite for their super-fight.

The early Joshua v Klitschko odds see the former leading the way as favourite for their super-fight.

“I am pleased that everything is now set for December 10th and I can concentrate on getting the business done in the ring,” said IBF champion Joshua, who is 11/8 to knock out Klitschko next year.

“There has been plenty of talk about who I may face but all I’m doing is concentrating on finishing Molina in style and putting on a great show.”

Who will you be backing in the Joshua v Klitschko odds for next year's lucrative match-up?

Who will you be backing in the Joshua v Klitschko odds for next year’s lucrative match-up?

Molina has fought outside of the United States on just one occasion, when stopping Tomasz Adamek last time out in Poland, and the 34-year-old also lost his only other world title fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder in 2015.

Having rampantly built up an already promising position in the sport and, with a highly-anticipated showdown with Klitschko awaiting next spring, the world is at Joshua’s feet if he can gain an expected comfortable success over Molina on Manchester soil this December.

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