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Can AJ Do Better Vs Francis Ngannou Than Tyson Fury?

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Can AJ Do Better Vs Francis Ngannou Than Tyson Fury?

Anthony Joshua will collide with Francis Ngannou this Friday night in Riyadh where he will attempt to win more convincingly than British rival Tyson Fury.

Last October Francis Ngannou shocked the boxing world. The event featuring himself and Fury was headlined the ‘Battle of the Baddest’ but it was seen by many as a complete farce.

No one conceived that Ngannou, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, could make his debut in the boxing ring and be competitive against someone as good as Fury.

Francis Ngannou

Can Francis Ngannou have similar luck versus Anthony Joshua, as he did against Fury?

‘The Gypsy King’ was and still is viewed by some as the best heavyweight in the world, even better than Oleksandr Usyk whom he will share the ring with on May 18th in a bid to become undisputed.

The man who gave Wladimir Klitschko his first loss in almost ten years to become a world champion for the first time.

The man who knocked out Deontay Wilder twice to capture the WBC belt.

The man who returned to the ring after almost three years of inactivity and drug problems to knock out Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

Francis Ngannou Fanbase Grew

Of course, Francis Ngannou was respected in the build-up as a phenomenal athlete and a freak of nature. But like the majority of UFC stars who have made the switch to boxing, he was expected to get destroyed by an experienced boxer.

And yet, Ngannou was not just competitive. He also dropped Fury with a powerful left hook in the third round and at the end of the contest he was on the wrong side of a razor-close split decision.

Indeed, Ngannou proved a lot of people wrong and now the perceived risk for Joshua is greater.

Despite producing his best performance in years last time out by stopping Otto Wallin in five rounds, AJ has everything to lose and little to gain.

Is This A Can’t Win For Anthony Joshua?

If he struggles at all against Ngannou the sentiments of ‘Anthony Joshua is finished’ will echo around the boxing world like a badly written song.

And even if he destroys Francis Ngannou in a few rounds, the ‘he was never a real boxer’ opinion may emerge from the shadows.

However, one thing cannot be denied. If Joshua defeats Ngannou in more dominant fashion than Fury, he has bragging rights on the world stage.

As the saying goes ‘styles make fights’ but it would be difficult not to question Fury’s air of invincibility. Hypothetically, those in the boxing community might end up wondering why AJ dealt with Ngannou with ease whilst Fury struggled so much.

This is especially because, in the past few years, Fury’s stock has risen whereas Joshua’s stock has fallen.

Since suffering back-to-back losses to Usyk, Joshua is not viewed as the same monster who racked up numerous knockouts in the early stages of his career and became a world champion in his 19th bout by overcoming Klitschko at Wembley Stadium.

In contrast, following his trilogy with Wilder, Fury had made such an impression that at one point, some pundits were saying he had nothing left to prove and were calling for ‘The Gypsy King’ to retire, even without facing Joshua or Usyk.

Like Fury-Ngannou, Joshua-Ngannou is scheduled for ten rounds. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a boxing wiz to realize the bout this week is going to be a lot more explosive.

With an 88.89% knockout ratio, it’s hard to dispute that Joshua hits harder than Fury. Hence, the Olympic gold medallist has a better chance of actually hurting Francis Ngannou and potentially knocking him out.

On the other hand, Joshua is arguably a bit easier to hit than Fury which means that Ngannou may have more opportunities to land power punches of his own.

So, it’s possible that Joshua-Ngannou will be a shootout. A spectacle that could end at any moment if the right punch connects from either man.

Fury couldn’t put a dent in Francis Ngannou but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Cameroonian has a granite chin. As for Anthony Joshua, he was famously dropped numerous times and then stopped in his first fight against Andy Ruiz in June 2019.

Then again, Joshua might choose to box and move to secure the victory. After all, some believe Fury was fortunate to get the nod against Ngannou and a wide points win could still paint Joshua as a superior fighter to Fury.

Unfortunately for Ngannou, he has lost that element of surprise. Those ten rounds against Fury were enough for any coach to analyze his abilities and AJ’s coach Ben Davison won’t have left any stones unturned.

Yet you can’t prepare for the brute strength Francis Ngannou possesses. For the first time in his career, Anthony Joshua is set to battle someone who has more muscle mass than him and it’s intriguing to find out if he will get thrown around the ring like Fury did.

Overall though, Anthony Joshua has much better boxing skills and this should allow him to capture a comfortable decision on points. Ngannou has a punchers chance and might have moments of success but it's unlikely to be enough to defeat AJ.

Dan D’Alessio is a boxing journalist and fitness enthusiast. When Dan is not behind his desk writing articles, he is smashing pads, kicking a ball or lifting weights at the gym