Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou preview and prediction

Francis Ngannou will return to the boxing ring against Anthony Joshua in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, here's how we think the fight will play out.
Day of Reckoning: Fight Night
Day of Reckoning: Fight Night / Richard Pelham/GettyImages

Colossal news has hit the combat sports world with the announcement of another crossover boxing match.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (0-1) will return to a boxing ring against former unified heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua (27-3).

Although more details have yet to be released, the match is scheduled for 10 rounds and will take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to ESPN, the fight is set to take place on March 9.

Incredibly, in his first two boxing matches, Ngannou will have faced two of the premier heavyweights of the last decade. Many fans were skeptical when Ngannou first left the UFC to sign with the PFL (Professional Fighters League) in May 2023. The deal for Ngannou allows him to participate in boxing matches, and he has taken full advantage.

In October 2023, Ngannou made his professional boxing debut against lineal and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in a ten-round non-title bout. The former UFC champion shocked audiences by knocking Fury down in the third round with a left hook. After ten rounds, many believed Ngannou had done enough to earn a victory.

The judges awarded Fury with a razor-thin split decision. Regardless, it was Ngannou who walked away with vindication, as most believed the match with Fury was nothing more than a money grab rather than a real competitive bout.

After two back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk, one of which featured a postfight mental breakdown and multiple changes in trainers, Anthony Joshua had to go back to the drawing board in 2023. Joshua managed to reel off three victories in 2023; the most recent may have been his most impressive, with a fifth-round stoppage over Otto Wallin. Joshua was vying for a fight against Deontay Wilder; however, the knockout artist was utterly dominated by Joshua Parker on the same night of Joshua’s win over Wallin.

With the undisputed heavyweight championship up for grabs in February between Fury and Usyk, Joshua-Ngannou will be the biggest box office non-title bout in the division, pulling in fans of boxing and MMA.

Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou prediction

While he was highly underestimated against Fury, Ngannou had the advantage of the unknown heading into that match. He won’t have that same trump card against Joshua. Unlike Fury, Joshua won’t be coming off a ten-month layoff and will be looking to gain a measure of bragging rights over his United Kingdom rival by defeating Ngannou.

Joshua has shown massive amounts of vulnerability, mainly when opponents apply pressure and aren’t afraid to take the fight to him. Ngannou’s best course of action is to get into a brawl with Joshua with the likelihood of coming out on top. However, Joshua has plenty of motivation to make a statement against Ngannou and should be the one who has his hands raised with a stoppage victory.

Prediction: Joshua via TKO.

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