The clash between Joshua and Ngannou

Gati Jesse

Gati Jesse

Published on March 8, 2024

Joshua and Ngannou face off on Friday, live on Sky Sports Box Office, with a potential crack at the winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on the line.

George Groves (former super middleweight world champion)


“This fight has grown on me since it’s been made, I’ve done my investigations into Ngannou and I don’t think anybody is underestimating him this time around. I’m not a huge MMA/UFC fan but I’ve gathered he’s more a boxer than UFC fighter anyway. He can punch hard, apparently he’s the hardest punching person on the planet.

“The pressure is on for AJ because he’s fighting an newbie boxer with a record of 0-1. He should have the class to go in there and box rings around Ngannou, but anything can happen. Ngannou might be twice as good this time because he’s had a double camp.

“There are unknowns for Joshua, the pressure is on him because he is the guy with the pedigree and he’s got to win. Ngannou is in that vibe where he’s talking about wanting to drag these guys into his domain. Whether it’s a tactic to undermine Joshua and say he’s the stronger, tougher, braver man or alleviate pressure, it might work or it might not.

Anthony Crolla (former lightweight world champion)

“Myself, like many others, got it badly wrong last time. So many people wrote Ngannou off, he was trolled online over pad work and he was so much better than everybody thought. That uncertainty is gone and as a boxing fan it’s making you look forward to it even more. He pushed Tyson Fury so close, people thought he might have even won it. I think Joshua has got a little bit more to watch, they would have studied him.

“If Ngannou has improved from that first camp Anthony Joshua is going to have his hands full and more. It’s the fight game, so many little factors and they will all be answered tomorrow night.

“I’m going Joshua in rounds 4-6, I think we’ll see a devastating performance from Joshua.”

Dan Hardy (former UFC fighter)

“I think this is a much better fight for Francis Ngannou. Tyson Fury is tricky, he’s got good head movement, he’s smart, he’s wily, he’s got great footwork.

“AJ is a great boxer, very technically sound, but he doesn’t move like Fury, he’s going to be more hittable for Ngannou. Ngannou has now also got 10 rounds of confidence because he knows he can fight for 10 rounds in a boxing ring, and that to him was a mystery in his first fight.

“This may only be his second professional boxing match but I fully expect him to look much better this time around.

“I think Francis is going to most likely knock AJ down a couple of times in the fight, but if he can’t stop him I think Ngannou will win on points.”

Sean O’Malley (UFC bantamweight champion)

“I think Francis can definitely beat Anthony Joshua.

“His neck, his chin, he’s going to be hard to knock out and scary to sit in the pocket and trade with because he has insane power.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get the win.”

Dewey Cooper (Francis Ngannou’s trainer)

“Our goal is domination, we’ve got to defend that right hand he likes to set up and be attentive to the jab.

“I truly believe Francis can beat him outside and inside. My prediction? I said it at the press conference: the ferocious, furious, flaming, feisty fists of Francis Ngannou will finish Anthony Joshua.”

Eddie Hearn (Anthony Joshua’s promoter)

“If you’re Ngannou you’d think the training team are saying ‘you need to apply the pressure to Anthony Joshua, try and walk him down’. If you’re AJ, the last thing you want is Ngannou walking you down.

“It’s quite fascinating. Ngannou said ‘people say I can’t box’ and that the Fury fight wasn’t all about power, if he goes in there and thinks he’ll outbox Anthony Joshua he’ll have an absolute nightmare. If he walks him down AJ has a choice.

“You don’t want to be circling around the ring with Francis Ngannou with the strength of him in the clinch and on the ropes, you need to take the middle of the ring. You have to make Ngannou gas, and he will gas.

“Call it my fanboy status, my delusion and love for Anthony Joshua. He will be the undisputed heavyweight champion. When he beat Otto Wallin people started becoming believers again. And when he beats Francis Ngannou in a much better faction than Tyson Fury did, people will start believing again and again and again. Anthony Joshua will knock out Tyson Fury and become undisputed heavyweight champion.

“All we have to do is do our job Friday night. Tyson Fury, don’t let us down, beat Usyk and we’ll get the biggest fight in the history of the sport.”

Tommy Fury (professional cruiserweight)

“If I was talking to AJ I would be saying to not get involved with him. Keep him at the end of the jab, box him, you’re the boxer in the there, the Olympic medallist. Don’t get involved with him, because if you get involved with the man the size of him you’ll go over if he clips you.

“A man that size, doesn’t matter how good he is, if he clips you you’re going over. Keep it nice and long, keep the straight shots going, twists and turns, don’t try and put on a show.

“AJ is in a good predicament. Tyson has stated he wants the winner of these two so we could finally see the matchup we’ve wanted to see for years. Be nice and tidy, if you win on points then great, a win is a win.

“I think AJ will win this fight if he doesn’t get involved. If he does get involved it could be a different story.”

Johnny Nelson (Former cruiserweight world champion and Sky Sports Boxing expert)

“Ngannou shouldn’t be able to make such a dent, make such fear in any fighter in the top 10, but he has,” said Nelson. “Is it the new coming, the new era?

“As the weeks keep rolling, my compass was there for Anthony Joshua but it’s slowly going that way and I don’t want to say it out loud because I love this sport.

“I started with AJ day and night shutting him out, it’s not even a conversation, but when I see the demeanour and the model of these athletes and the mannerism of Ngannou, who is not going to be pressured in any way, I believe it.

“I’m starting to believe that if AJ goes in there and boxes how he boxed (Jermaine) Franklin then he will get knocked out. If you go in there and doubt yourself for one second with this guy you’re getting turned over.

“I want to stay with it [his prediction Joshua will win], I’m worried.

“You look at the team Ngannou brought, you bring a big team when you think you’re doing something special, they think they’re going to shock this fight. It’s a who’s who of boxing watching this week, I think they know it’s going to be a snatch and grab fight.”

Source: SkySports

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