Posted on 01/05/2024
By: Sean Crose
After nearly shocking the entire world by dropping lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (some argue he shocked the world anyway) last October, former UFC great Francis Ngannou will now be facing former WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua, reportedly this March in Saudi Arabia. Although the exact day hasn’t been given, there’s no arguing that Joshua and Ngannou will indeed be fighting each other next. “Tonight,” Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn stated on Twitter Friday, “we confirm it’s a Done Deal! @anthonyjoshua v @francis_ngannou collide on a huge night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – press conference Jan 15 in London with full details dropping soon!
Joshua has been riding high after completely dominating and stopping dangerous contender Otto Wallin a few weeks back. With current titlists Usyk and Fury set to fight for the undisputed heavyweight championship, and with a newly defeated Deontay Wilder looking nowhere near his best, Ngannou offers the Londoner a big money, high profile fight against a heavy puncher. Indeed, there should be no down side to this for Joshua, unless of course he makes the mistake of underestimating the talented Ngannou, as many argue Fury did several months back.
As for Ngannou, this is the chance for him to solidify the belief that his near victory over Fury wasn’t merely a fluke. A win over Joshua would be massive, turning the entire world of combat sports on its head and presenting him with a chance to fight for a world title. As a general rule, top former mixed martial artists tend to get clobbered in the boxing ring. Against Fury, Ngannou proved to be the exception to the rule, showing footwork and a decent ring IQ when facing one of the most decorated and lauded boxers on earth.
Styles, however, make fights. And Joshua might employ a style that proves incompatible for Ngannou. After being stopped by Andy Ruiz in 2019, Joshua decided to switch styles for the rematch, becoming illusive rather than engaging in a slugfest. It has been already been suggested that Joshua might employ the same strategy against the hard hitting Ngannou. Then again, Joshua is a hard hitting heavyweight himself. Trading punches with someone who has the heavy hands Ngannou does, however, might prove faulty. At any rate, Joshua will very likely enter the ring to face Ngannou as a considerable favorite. And that makes sense. It doesn’t guarantee a win, however.