Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

Two worlds collide in Saudi Arabia this weekend as former two-time unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua takes on Francis Ngannou over ten rounds, writes JORDAN NEILD.

Ngannou has only had one professional boxing contest since switching from MMA but he has quickly established himself as a mainstream star and this is a fight that has captured the attention of the entire combat sports world.

Once his career is over, the story of Francis Ngannou will be a bestselling movie. Born in Cameroon, he travelled to France in his early twenties to better his life and after spending years on the streets, he found MMA and it provided him with the opportunity to completely change his life. Within eight years of his first training session, Ngannou was UFC heavyweight champion.

During his UFC tenure, Ngannou displayed exceptional punching power and quickly gained the reputation as the ‘baddest man on the planet’. As the challengers dried up, Ngannou fell out with the top bosses in the UFC and that opened the door for a mega clash with Tyson Fury in 2023.

As a career mixed martial artist, Ngannou was mocked when he announced his move to boxing with many accusing him of being yet another UFC fighter searching for that big boxing payday but his performance against Fury silenced all critics.

Entering the fight as a huge underdog, Ngannou outboxed Fury for long periods and dropped him in the third round in a moment that reverberated around the world. As early as the first round, it was clear that Ngannou had been working hard in the gym to perfect the craft of boxing and he was competitive in every round before ultimately losing a controversial split decision.

On paper, Francis Ngannou is 0-1 as a boxer but his star power is at an all-time high after the Fury fight and on the back of that, this fight with Anthony Joshua makes a huge amount of sense. With Fury tied up with Oleksandr Usyk, both men needed a dance partner and the powers that be in Saudi Arabia were willing to pay multi millions to get the pair in the ring.

At 34 and with two world titles already secured, ‘AJ’ doesn’t have much left to prove in boxing so it’s no surprise that these huge crossover fights make most appeal to him. The former Olympic champion is the most decorated British boxer in recent memory and has made generational wealth during his twelve-year professional career.

With a record of 27-3 (24KO), Joshua has enjoyed a long career but his most recent knockout of Otto Wallin proved that he can still produce explosive performances when he needs to. Joshua has been highly criticised in recent years for losing his finishing instinct but a recent link-up with trainer Ben Davison seems to have unlocked that part of his game once again.

Coming into a fight like this, Joshua must respect Ngannou to avoid making the same mistakes Tyson Fury did. The former UFC champion is a freak athlete who clearly has natural boxing ability and with his confidence at an all-time high, he will be at his most dangerous in Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Ngannou deserves this opportunity but after his performance against Fury, he may have lost the element of surprise that gave him an advantage. Throughout training camp, Joshua will have cut no corners and it’s hard to see the former two-time champion losing if he is fully focused.

This could be close early in the fight but as Joshua finds his feet, his class and experience should begin to show. On a historic night in Saudi Arabia, Anthony Joshua can breathe new life into his career by knocking out Francis Ngannou between rounds 6-10.

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Author: Eugene Morris