Suffolk star Wardley set for biggest fight of his career against two-time world title challenger

Suffolk's Fabio Wardley is all smiles after stopping Simon Vallily in the third to win the English heavyweight title Picture:...

English heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley will fight two-time world title challenger Eric Molina on March 6 - Credit: Mark Robinson

Suffolk boxing star Fabio Wardley is set for the biggest fight of his career against a two-time world title challenger in March, it was revealed tonight.

Ipswich heavyweight Wardley (10-0, 9KO), a former Chantry High School pupil with heavy hands, a lightning jab and fast feet, will fight Eric Molina on March 6.

Eric Molina at the Public Investment Fund office complex in Riyadh.

Eric Molina is a two-time world title challenger - Credit: PA

Molina, (27-6, 19 KO),  is another step up for Wardley, who wiped out dangerous puncher Richard Lartey in just two rounds last November.

The 38-year-old fought Deontay Wilder for the WBC strap in June 2015, losing in nine rounds, before stepping in with Anthony Joshua - who Wardley recently sparred - for the IBF belt in December 2016, getting stopped in three.

Anthony Joshua (left) stands over Eric Molina during their IBF World Heavyweight Championship bout a

Eric Molina was stopped in three rounds by Anthony Joshua in December 2016 - Credit: PA

And Wardley says taking a fight with Molina, who's also mixed it with the likes of Tomasz Adamek, Dominic Breazeale and Filip Hrgovic, is another example of his ambition and self-belief.

"He's a good opponent for where I'm at, and the impression I'm trying to make in fights," Wardley explained. "I could have taken an easy fight, but I have to build my experience and get better. The only way you can do that is to fight good opponents.

"He's proved that he can stay in there, he'll always be trying to fight and win no matter what the situation, and that's ideal for what I need and what I'm looking for.

Fabio Wardley turns away having decked Richard Lartey in the second round of their heavyweight scrap at Wembley Arena Picture...

Fabio Wardley turns away having decked Richard Lartey in the second round of their heavyweight scrap at Wembley Arena Picture: DAVE THOMPSON - Credit: Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing


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"Make no mistake, each fight has been an incremental step up, and this one is perhaps a bigger jump than previously given he's a two-time world title challenger, but I'm happy with it.

"He's a fringe world-level guy, a gatekeeper to the best in the division, and that's what I want."

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When asked what a win over a name like Molina would do for him, the 26-year-old replied: "I think it just pushes my name further into serious consideration.

Eric Molina during the weigh in at the Al Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Eric Molina is vastly more experienced than Wardley, with a 27-6 (19KO) record - Credit: PA

"The last two fights I've been getting taken a bit more seriously, people saying that I'm the real deal. If I can get past someone like Eric Molina with a KO then it will really show what I'm capable of and make a statement.

"After that, we're trying not to stick too much to just hunting for the British title this year - there's the European and Commonwealth belts too, so we're just keeping our options open."

And Wardley, who's stopped nine opponents in a row, despite constantly stepping up in competition, can't see Molina making it to the final bell in March.

Fabio Wardley on the attack against Richard Lartey Picture: DAVE THOMPSON

Fabio Wardley on the attack against Richard Lartey Picture: DAVE THOMPSON - Credit: Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing

"I just want to get some rounds in," he said. "He's not a simple opponent to fight, he's got decent head movement and movement overall.

"I think it will go six or seven rounds, maybe into eight, and by then I'll be able to put my foot down and get him out of there." 

Wardley, who fights out of the Suffolk Punch Gym under head trainer Rob Hodgins, is now back in full-time training after testing positive for coronavirus over Christmas.

Suffolk's Fabio Wardley celebrates his second round KO of Richard Lartey at Wembley Arena. Picture: DAVE THOMPSON

Suffolk's Fabio Wardley celebrates his second round KO of Richard Lartey at Wembley Arena. Picture: DAVE THOMPSON - Credit: Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing

He explained: "I got corona on Boxing Day. To be honest, I thought it was just a hangover - I had a few drinks on Christmas Day - because I just had a raging headache, but then my taste started to go so I got tested.

"I had about two rough days where I felt like s**t - I was run down and just slept loads, plus I didn't have much of an appetite.

"All things considered, I got off pretty lightly with it."

The March 6 event will be headlined by the rematch between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. Campell Hatton, son of British boxing legend Ricky, will make his pro debut on the same card.

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