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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Anthony Joshua faces Francis Ngannou in risky fight

Anthony Joshua faces Francis Ngannou in risky fight

Publish Date: 03/07/2024
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou.

Say what?

Say yes.

The fight goes down this Friday at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, South Africa,

Some experts have called the fight career suicide for Joshua. They say the risk outweighs the reward.

Does it?

Joshua is the favorite, according to the oddsmakers, but it’s precarious.

“As long as Ngannou remains on his two feet and is able to throw a punch, he is always a danger,” said trainer Virgil Hunter in an interview with Boxing Social several weeks ago.

True. Joshua’s chin can be suspectable. Dillian Whyte wobbled him. Vladimir Klitschko knocked him down, and Andy Ruiz stopped him.

Two losses to Oleksandr Usyk appeared to damage him psychologically. He ranted and pointed fingers. The six-foot-six, 250-pound Joshua sounded fragile.

After the Ruiz fight, he fought like a guy who didn’t believe in himself. He engaged occasionally. Think Paul Bunyan carrying a pocket knife.

He changed trainers. He reluctantly knocked out Robert Helenius last August.

Joshua was back in the ring four months ago against Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin. Risky said some, but Joshua delivered.

Waiting in his corner for the fight to begin, Joshua looked at peace – and imposing. He owned Wallin in five rounds. He bossed him with his jab and fired powerful punches.

Trainer Ben Davidson refused to take any credit for Joshua’s best performance in years.

People were going, ‘Ben’s rejuvenated A.J.’ It’s a load of nonsense,” Davison said. “He’s an Olympic gold medalist. Those are the skills he’s always had. All that we’ve done is helped him to understand, ‘These are the tools you’ve got that we think will work for that job and these are the tools that you’ve got that we think will work for that job.’ That’s our job, really.

Wallin had one loss on his record coming into the fight. Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury defeated him in 2019. But it wasn’t easy for Fury.

Joshua and Fury have been circling each other for years. Fury fought Ngannou five months ago. He almost won, did win, according to the former UFC heavyweight champion.

“I won [the fight with Fury],” Ngannou said in an article on www.boxingscene.com. “Look at me now – look at my life, look at where I was when you think I lost. You think because some foolish judges make some decision that change anything in my life?”

For the record, this writer thought Fury, though knocked down, did just enough to win. When Joshua’s fight with Deontay Wilder fell through, due to Wilder losing to Joseph Parker, Ngannou’s name bubbled up.

Perhaps the thinking is if he takes care of Ngannou, he sets himself up as the Fury’s next opponent if the big man can defeat giant slayer Usyk in May.

Joshua had no qualms when Ngannou’s name came up.

‘This is a good opportunity on this day in Saudi Arabia against this opponent,” Joshua said. “What are you saying?’ I said, ‘Let’s roll. Let’s go.’”

The pressure, of course, is ALL on Joshua. Will he play it safe? Or wing with the powerful Ngannou? I think he’ll do both.

Joshua to win by stoppage before round nine.

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