When contemplating potential boxing matchups, I try not to put too much emphasis on common opponents. Different fighters bring different qualities and talents with them into a fight. George Foreman blasted both Joe Frazier and Ken Norton. Norton and Frazier both had wins over Muhammad Ali and gave him all he could handle in two other bouts. Yet Ali knocked out Foreman.
Still, after the way IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua handled Eric Molina last weekend, it’s tough for me not to think that he would march through WBC champ Deontay Wilder in a potential unification fight.
Wilder’s power and athleticism cannot be dismissed. But Joshua has similar power and athleticism, but better technical skill and more strength. When Molina faced Wilder in June 2015, it was a one-sided fight and Molina did not see the final bell. But he went nine rounds with the American and harassed him at points in the fight, even winning a round on two cards.
Against Joshua last weekend, Molina looked thoroughly intimidated, from the first round on. Joshua physically imposed himself on Molina, pushing the fringe contender around the ring before finishing him off in Round 3.
But before any potential fight with Wilder, Joshua will have an even bigger fish to fry. He is already set to face one of the division’s longest reigning champions, Wladimir Klitschko, next April in London.
The fact that Joshua’s handlers are moving so quickly to pair him with a legend like Klitschko tells you a lot about him in comparison to Wilder, as well. Wilder turned professional in 2008 and fought nothing but club-level opposition for his first three years.
At a similar point in his own career, Joshua has already faced top undefeated prospects and veteran journeymen and stepping stones. Now he is getting set to face the top heavyweight of this century.
This fight will take place just a month after Klitschko turns 41. It is not like Joshua will be getting him at his best. But it will be a bigger test than any that Wilder has taken.