Anthony Joshua likely to make first IBF title defence against a US fighter in bid to crack pay-per-view market: four names in the mix

Anthony Joshua, and his promoter Eddie Hearn, want to crack the US market and become a genuine pay-per-view attraction. Hearn, in speaking with Boxing News, said he fully understands how it takes time to become a big name in America; the kind of name fans will readily part with cash to see fight. And as such, Hearn is likely to match the new IBF heavyweight champ against an American name in his first defence.

There are huge domestic fights out there for Joshua, with Tyson Fury and David Haye waiting in the wings, but it looks as though they will have to wait a while. Hearn, in speaking with the trade paper, said he has a few names lined up when it comes to who Joshua may fight in his maiden defence, penciled in for July 9th. It’s probable Joshua will defend in the UK, but the names Hearn mentioned are: Malik Scott, Bryant Jennings, Bermane Stiverne and Eric Molina.

Of the four names, Hearn said he thought of Molina himself and that such a fight would make sense:

“Molina is a name I thought of,” Hearn told Boxing News. “He’s coming off a good win against [Tomasz] Adamek and he gave [Deontay] Wilder a good fight.”

Of the four possible names – and things could change any day in the A.J plans – Molina looks the most attractive/interesting. Jennings is coming off a KO loss to Luis Ortiz, Stiverne, though durable, has done next to nothing since losing to Wilder over a year ago, and Scott, though skilful, has had a hard time winning over the fans since his one-round KO loss at the hands of Wilder. It seems clear, Molina, coming off two wins since pushing and troubling Wilder, is the better challenger for Joshua.

And, as this writer found out when asking Molina, he is more than ready to come to the UK for a July 9th opportunity.

“Of course,” Molina said of a possible July 9 date with Joshua. “I had only 35 days notice for the Wilder fight. That [three months] is more than enough time to prepare. Of the four names [Hearn listed as potential Joshua opponents] who would you like to see?”

Actually, of the four, I’d pick Molina. None of the four would be looked at as an overly serious threat to Joshua, but Molina – who has improved a lot since his early stoppage loss to Chris Arreola four years ago – would give it his all in trying to make history as the first-ever Mexican/American to ever win the heavyweight title (or a version of it).

No-one is saying Molina would beat Joshua, but plenty of people are saying the 33-year-old would give Joshua a far better fight than deposed champ Charles Martin gave the new champ this past Saturday.