Boxing may have missed out on one of the biggest marquee matchups of the year, but IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is not going to let that stop him from defending his belt before the calendar year is over.
Joshua and the former decade-long dominant heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko were looking to finalize a fight deal for December this year. The only thing reportedly holding them back was the World Boxing Association’s decision of whether or not to allow its title up for stakes in the fight.
Joshua and Klitschko came into talks following the fallout of Tyson Fury. Klitschko and Fury had a rematch scheduled two separate times this year, but both were scrapped.
The first time in July, Fury pulled out due to injury. And the most recent occasion saw Fury get deemed medically unfit to fight as he dealt with alcohol and cocaine issues, as well as mental health issues. He stood as the unified lineal heavyweight champion but has since vacated all the titles.
But now with Joshua-Klitschko on the horizon, Klitschko recently pulled out himself with an injury.
Eric Molina and David Price have been named as the two potential replacements per Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, according to ESPN.
Price’s trainer argues the replacement should clearly be Price.
“There has been contact, but I’m hearing that Eddie is looking at Molina [for December],” Price’s trainer Dave Coldwell said.
“Molina is the guy we said we would fight on Joshua’s undercard on Dec. 10 so I think it’s a step back for them to fight Molina, he’s the easier opponent.
“I understand it’s not an ideal situation for a world title fight. We have less than seven weeks to go, you have no ‘name’ opponent for Joshua, and, apart from the hardcore fans, no one has heard of Molina in this country.
“David is a former Olympic [bronze] medallist and they are two Britons,” Coldwell said. “David is one of the hardest punchers in the division and if he fights AJ you are guaranteed someone will get knocked out.
“Joshua has been hurt before. There’s that element of danger and if the fight doesn’t happen that’s the reason why.
“Pricey is hoping to get the call. He’s in the gym and he’s very confident of going in there with AJ.”