Joshua-Kl­itschko spring show­down ma­jor step nearer

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

A mouth­wa­ter­ing world heavy­weight ti­tle show­down early next year be­tween Bri­tain’s An­thony Joshua and for­mer cham­pion Wladimir Kl­itschko took a ma­jor step closer yes­ter­day after the WBA sanc­tioned it.

The ex­cit­ing Joshua, 27, who won the IBF ti­tle in April after it was vol­un­tar­ily va­cated by trou­bled com­pa­triot Tyson Fury, must first come through the de­fence of his belt against solid jour­ney­man Eric Molina in De­cem­ber in Manch­ester.

Joshua’s man­ager Ed­die Hearn had orig­i­nally hoped the Kl­itschko clash would take place in De­cem­ber, but they had to wait on the WBA de­ci­sion. In the mean­time, Hearn ac­knowl­edged there was risk in tak­ing on 34-year-old Molina, whose pre­vi­ous world ti­tle con­test saw him push WBC holder Deon­tay Wilder to nine rounds in June 2015.

“It’s been an ar­du­ous wait to gain of­fi­cial ap­proval but we were de­lighted to re­ceive the news that the WBA will of­fi­cially sanc­tion the fight be­tween An­thony Joshua and Wladimir Kl­itschko for the WBA su­per ti­tle,” Hearn said on www.match­room­box­

“We will now move for­ward with (Kl­itschko’s man­ager) Bernd Boente and Team Kl­itschko in plan­ning the date and venue know­ing that vic­tory against Eric Molina in Manch­ester on De­cem­ber 10 is more im­por­tant than ever.” Match­room said the fight would be staged in “spring 2017”. While it has been a mo­men­tous year for 2012 Olympic cham­pion Joshua, who boasts a 17-0 record with all vic­to­ries by knock-out, it has been a frus­trat­ing one for 40-year-old Kl­itschko.

The Ukrainian had hoped to re­gain the IBF, WBO and WBA belts which he lost to Fury in a stun­ning up­set last Novem­ber.

His re­match with Fury for the WBA and WBO belts had been set for July 9, only for an in­jury to force the Bri­tish fighter out.

Fury then pulled out of a se­cond bout sched­uled for late Oc­to­ber be­cause of de­pres­sion and he va­cated the WBA and WBO belts so he could fo­cus on bat­tling his men­tal tur­moil. —AFP

An­thony Joshua

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