- Heavyweight Bout: Joshua vs Ngannou
- Date: Friday, March 8 | Main Card Time: 23:00
- Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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Joshua vs Ngannou:
Anthony Joshua will take on Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Former WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champions Joshua defeated Otto Wallin last time out as he strives to put himself in the mix to face the winner of the unification bout between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, though this has now been put on hold until May 18 after Fury sustained an injury in training. MMA legend Ngannou lost out to Fury in his professional boxing debut, however, he caused the WBC heavyweight champion a number of problems and came out of the contest with great credit. It is a match-up which is attracting a great deal of interest with boxing fans and punters speculating as to whether AJ is back to his best and whether Ngannou, after a superb MMA career, can make an impact on top level boxing.
After two defeats to Usyk, Joshua has been focused on rebuilding his career. He will be hoping to overcome Ngannou quickly and efficiently and then take on the winner of the Fury and Usyk fight, which now has been thrown into doubt following Fury’s injury. This, potentially, would see him become Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World. After being postponed due to an injury to Fury, the unification bout now has a new date of May 18, a shade over three months after the original date.
Joshua will know that he needs to be fully prepared to face Ngannou. “The Predator” is famous for his striking power and his ability to deliver devastating knockouts and appears to be serious about making the transition to boxing, where he has been advised by the legendary Mike Tyson
Originally set to face Deontay Wilder in March, Joshua’s plans were altered by Wilder’s unexpected loss to Joseph Parker, in December. Ngannou stepped in after an impressive performance against Fury, while Parker’s clash with Zhilei Zhang is the main draw on the undercard.
Despite initially dismissing Ngannou as a “gimmick”, Joshua has changed his stance after witnessing his near-upset against Fury. Joshua, drawing parallels with own quick advancement in the boxing world, emphasised that experience isn’t the only factor crucial to success.
While Joshua is undoubtedly the favourite he must get his tactics right to guard against and upset. He must apply pressure from the outset, throw plenty of shots and not allow Ngannou to keep the pace slow. AJ needs to get in body punches and fast jabs and, once “the Predator” tires, put in some combinations. Ngannou will try to keep his guard high, protect himself and look for a big shot. Joshua needs to draw him out and find openings to exploit.
After disagreements over fight purses and endorsements during contract negotiations, Francis left the UFC. He’s since signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), but also harbours ambitions to etch his name into heavyweight boxing history. After going toe to toe with Fury, he is now going up against Joshua.
Ngannou shocked the world when he fought Fury, many feeling that he deserved to win. The Cameroonian landed a powerful blow on Fury in the third round and sent him to the floor. His challenge now is to prove that this wan not a one off. As well as Ngannou did against Fury, if he wants to beat Joshua he is going to have to throw more punches. In the Fury fight he only threw 231. However, should he attack more then there is always the chance that he will leave openings for Joshyua to exploit.
There is also the argument that Fury had grossly underestimated Ngannou and was not in the right physical or mental condition to take on “the Predator”. If this was the case, it is unlikely Joshua will make the same mistake.
However, Ngannou still has a chance of beating Joshua because of his punching power. AJ has already been knocked out in his career and if Ngannou lands a blow similar to the one he tried on Fury on Joshua’s chin then there is a chance that he could get the win. And victory would lead to a bout against the winner of Fury/Usyk, now due to take place on May 18, which would represent a rapid rise to the top of the sport.
Tale of the Tape
|37 (MMA) 1 (Boxing)
|27– 0 – 3
|35 – 1 – 1 (MMA) 0 – 0 – 1 (Boxing)
|12 (MMA) 0 (Boxing)
AJ looked a lot better in his victory over Wallin and, could have found fresh impetus in his career. Before the Wallin fight it was though that Wilder would overcome Parker on the same night and that the two would meet in March, with the winner taking on Fury or Usyk. However, WIlder’s defeat has changed this and Ngannou, who impressed against Fury, has earned another bout against a serious opponent.
With all due respect to Ngannou, who is a MMA legend and a highly capable boxer, a fighter of Joshua’s experience should have too much for him. We predict a victory for AJ.
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