Croatian heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic gets the sort of exposure that most top contenders could only dream about when he boxes on the Andy Ruiz vs Anthony Joshua 2 card in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia on Saturday, December 7th against two-time world title challenger Eric ‘Drummer Boy’ Molina with the WBC International heavyweight title on the line. The fight will be shown in the USA by DAZN and in the United Kingdom by Sky Sports.
Ruiz Jr vs Joshua is without any question the biggest boxing event of 2019 and that is saying something. In a year where we have seen Manny Pacquiao’s excellent win over Keith Thurman, the brilliant Spence Jr vs Porter classic, Inoue vs Donaire, Taylor vs Prograis, Golovkin vs Derevenchenko, Hurd vs Williams, and many, many, more, not forgetting Joshua vs Ruiz at Madison Square Garden in June, to be on the Diriyah bill will be a highlight in the careers of Hrgovic and Molina.
Hrgovic (9-0-0, 7 Ko’s), is a man in a hurry. We have seen some top amateur fighters from the former Eastern Bloc turn professional and go straight into professional world-class in the lower weight divisions but never a heavyweight. In Hrgovic’s 6th professional bout he faced former world title challenger Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson. Johnson fought Anthony Joshua in AJ’s 13th pro outing to give some comparison. The fight before Hrgovic took on Johnson, he knocked out Amir Mansour who was operating around world-class level a few years earlier. These are not the normal opponents for a novice heavyweight.
Molina (27-5-0, 19 Ko’s), is clearly not operating at the same level as he was when he took the scalp of Tomasz Adamek in 2016 but may be able to shed a little light on where Hrgovic is in his development. The truth is, every time Molina has faced genuine contenders or champions he has come up short. Losses to Chris Arreola, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Dominic Breazeale show that the 37-year-old cannot take that step-up to championship level.
One word of advice for Hrgovic is to take Molina seriously because even in defeat Molina has shown real power in his right hand. He had Wilder and Arreola on unsteady foundations before being stopped in their bouts with the man from Weslaco, Texas.
As stated already, this is the right stage for Hrgovic to make a big statement against a former world title challenger and I expect the big-hitting Croatian to take the opportunity given to him by Matchroom Boxing.
Prediction: Hrgovic to stop Molina in the first 3 rounds.