Anthony Joshua: ‘I have to take Francis Ngannou’s mind and spirit’

Joshua will face the former UFC champion in the latter’s second boxing match

Reuben Rosso-Powell
Tuesday 16 January 2024 07:33 GMT
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Anthony Joshua expects an “explosive” encounter when he takes on Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on 8 March.

Joshua will box the mixed martial artist three months after an impressive fifth-round stoppage of Otto Wallin in December.

Ex-UFC fighter Ngannou, who is now contracted to the Professional Fighters League, made his professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury in October and narrowly missed out on an unlikely victory, dropping the WBC heavyweight champion in the third round but losing on points.

“He brings two arms, a body, but his mind is different to everyone else,” Joshua said of Ngannou at a press conference on Monday. “In terms of his frame and make-up, I’ve seen people like him many times before.”

Recalling his thoughts when the Ngannou fight was offered, Joshua added: “No problem. Every fight leads to somewhere, so this fight is my everything and we will see where it leads me. My main focus is Ngannou and getting through an intense training camp. I have got to take his mind and his spirit, it will be explosive. We can both trade, and it will be a good fight.”

Joshua, 34, won all three of his fights in 2023 as he continued his bid to return to the top of the heavyweight division, but Ngannou is determined to derail that ambition.

The Cameroonian, 37, said: “I’m going to come as an underdog to win the fight. I will get this done.

“I’m just a beginner. I will come out better and that’s how I see things. I prepared for a hard fight. The Fury fight is in the past, and I will take this more serious than before because there’s more on the line, the undisputed [heavyweight title in the future].

“I will do something nobody has done before, and I have the tools to do that. It will not be an easy fight, but a possible one [to win].”

Joshua vs Ngannou will take place in Riyadh, three weeks after Fury fights Oleksandr Usyk in the same city for the undisputed world heavyweight title.

Promoter Frank Warren said: “This is what boxing fans have been crying out for, for years. We are in the golden age of boxing. Francis brought something to the ring that I never expected. He can be a handful on the inside, he put Tyson through his toughest fight for a long time.

“I take my hat off to ‘AJ’ for taking this fight. I think he’s in a tough fight, and it will be knockout chaos,” he added, referencing the fight’s tagline.

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