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Knockout Chaos: Joshua v Ngannou Preview and Prediction

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou seeks to send further shockwaves through the boxing world when he faces former two-time unified champion Anthony Joshua.

Anthony Joshua

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou seeks to send further shockwaves through the boxing world when he faces former two-time unified champion Anthony Joshua in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Friday night (Saturday morning SA time), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.   

Anthony Joshua (1.25) v Francis Ngannou (3.95)

1 AM Saturday SA time

Last October, in the very Kingdom Arena that’ll host this weekend’s colossal crossover clash, the boxing world received a shock to its system.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou, in his first professional boxing bout, gave WBC king Tyson Fury all he could handle in a 10-round non-title match that changed the complexion of the heavyweight landscape.

The mixed martial arts superstar surprised all and sundry with his technically sound showing, in which he dropped “The Gypsy King” in the third round, with many experts believing he was robbed of a decision victory that would’ve ended Fury’s legendary undefeated streak.

He may not have won on the official scorecards – losing a controversial split decision – but “The Predator” won the respect of the boxing world that night and instantly established himself as a top contender.

Fast forward two months, again at the Saudi Arabian venue, where Joshua and former WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder headlined a super card in separate bouts. The plan was for the two big-name stars to put on a show and despatch their respective opponents to set up a long-awaited fight between them in 2024.

Joseph Parker, however, had other ideas and ripped up the script with a stunning upset win over Wilder. Joshua had little time to process that his mega-money fight with “The Bronze Bomber” had just gone up in flames as he was up next and lived up to his end of the bargain by stopping Otto Wallin after five rounds.

With no interest in fighting Parker, who he’s already beaten, Joshua pivoted to the most-talked-about force in the division with Ngannou slotting into the spot Wilder squandered, leaving us with an extremely intriguing and pivotal showdown that in all likelihood will see the winner face the victor of the historic unification bout between Fury and Oleksandr Usyk in May.

Despite his impressive performance against Fury, Ngannou is once again a heavy underdog, which is understandable considering Joshua’s class and the fact that it’s the Cameroon-born colossus’ second professional boxing fight.

What makes heavyweight boxing such an attraction is that a fight can end at any moment with a single punch, and Ngannou wields such superhuman power that he will indeed shock the world if he connects flush. That’s easier said than done, of course, given Joshua is a ring general, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Ngannou, whose mixed martial arts record is 17-3 with 12 knockouts, isn’t your typical power puncher. He holds the world record for the hardest punch ever thrown – a shot he unleashed at the UFC Performance Institute in 2017 that registered at 129,161 units, which is the equivalent of getting hit by a Ford Escort at full speed.

In boxing terms, his fundamentals aren’t bad at all. Yes, he lacks the nuance of a seasoned boxer, but his technique is solid and his patience and ability to execute his game plan are exceptional. The muscle-bound behemoth also had no issue going the full 10 rounds with Fury, so he should have the cardio to go the distance again if need be.

Where Fury went in blind as to what to expect from Ngannou, Joshua has tape he can turn to in order to identify his strengths and weaknesses. “AJ”, who won the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, is returning to the form that made him a two-time unified champion, his current three-fight win streak improving his record to 27-3 with 24 knockouts.

As evidenced by his sculpted physique, Joshua’s always in peak condition for a fight, which already gives him a leg up on Fury, who went into his bout with Ngannou overweight and overconfident. A more conditioned and switched-on Joshua will thoroughly test the defensive capabilities of the mixed martial arts fighter.

The nuclear power of “The Predator” makes him a live dog, but with his boxing future hanging in the balance, Joshua will be at the top of his game and will pull out all of his tricks, both to get off offensively and stay safe defensively.

Ironically, given the bout is billed as Knockout Chaos, I see the fight going the distance and the super-sophisticated Brit winning on the scorecards, which offers a big pay out.

Prediction: Joshua by decision.

Best Bet: Joshua by decision at 5.00.

Alternative Bet: Joshua by KO/TKO/DQ at 1.55 or over 6.5 rounds at 1.75.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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