'If you want to go toe-to-toe, that's what happens to you' - Wardley stops Molina in dramatic style
- Credit: Mark Robinson Matchroom Boxing
Suffolk's heavyweight hope Fabio Wardley scored the biggest win of his remarkable career so far tonight as he knocked out two-time world-title challenger Eric Molina in dramatic fashion.
English heavyweight champion Wardley, now 11-0 (10KO) stopped Molina (now 27-7, 19KO) in the fifth round of the co-main event of the historic Rumble on the Rock event in Gibraltar, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Molina, a man who fought Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua for world titles, posed several questions of the Suffolk stylist early, showing his undoubted pedigree.
But, as the American surged forward, landing a big right hand and pressing the Suffolk man against the ropes in the fifth, detonating the biggest shots Wardley has shipped thus far in his career, the Ipswich fighter uncorked a right hand left hook combo which crumpled Molina to the canvas.
He couldn't beat the count, and Wardley added the biggest scalp so far to his fistic CV.
It certainly wasn't easy though, and Wardley will have learned a lot from the most testing moments he's faced in the ring so far.
After the win, Wardley, 26, said: "My corner weren't too happy because sometimes I get a little bit bored with playing the long game and waiting it through, and I got stuck into a little bit of a war but I showed there that if you want to go toe-to-toe with me I'll take you on and we can go for it,
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"I didn't go anywhere, I was still moving nicely, still boxing, still moving. Don't get me wrong, I felt it - this was the test I needed , someone to hit me, someone to put it on me, someone who's not going to let me off the hook, and I'll meet you in there if you want to go.
"If you want to go toe-to-toe, then that's what happens to you."
When asked if he needs to tighten up his trademark low hands style going forward, he added: "I'm by no means the finished article, I've still got a lot to learn and that's why we need fights like that.
"Other fights I've had, I've stuck it on them and they've gone missing, but he didn't go missing until we really had to dig it out.
"There was a few lessons there for us to watch back and tick off, go back to the drawing board and figure out.
"That's the whole point of this kind of fight at this stage of my career."
As for what's next, speaking ahead of the fight, Wardley, a former Ipswich Town academy player, said the target for the rest of the year would be winning more titles.
"One of those three - British, European or Commonwealth titles - are definitely on the target list," Wardley told us.
"That's where the aim is after this, maybe not straight after, maybe another good fight in between - I still need experience and 12th fight might be a bit too early for something like that.
"But it's perfectly doable, and it's on the list to tick off."
Nathan Gorman for the British title is a fight which has already been mooted. Gorman beat Pavel Sour in the second round on a BT Sport show tonight, knocking his foe down five times.
"Me and Nathan have a lot of respect for each other, I spent about a month in Manchester with him when he was getting ready for Daniel DuBois, so I know him pretty well and for the British title he's the obvious opponent," Wardley said.
"But if we don't go for that, if we look at Commonwealth or European, there's a variety of options."
He added "David Price is a potential, but I think I heard something about him fighting Hughie Fury.
"Kash Ali, potentially, but is he British title worthy? Not really. Nick Webb is fighting on this show so if he comes through (he did, winning via second round KO) then potentially.
"The other one is Marco Huck, he's an interesting one that could be a potential for the European.
"Nothing is set in stone. I look for the belts, I don't look for the people. If you're the guy in the middle, it just happens to be unlucky for you."