Anthony Joshua claims to be ‘heavyweight champion of the world’ after knocking out Francis Ngannou

Joshua positioned himself for a shot at the undisputed world heavyweight title - but believes he should already have the WBC belt

Jamie Braidwood
Saturday 09 March 2024 12:21 GMT
Anthony Joshua looking to build on knockout win over Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua claimed he should be the “WBC heavyweight champion of the world” after knocking out Francis Ngannou.

Joshua produced a timely reminder of his devastating punching power as he dropped the UFC champion twice in the second round before a crushing third knockdown in Saudi Arabia.

It positioned Joshua to take on the winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, who meet in an undisputed heavyweight title fight in May.

Last October, Ngannou made his boxing debut against WBC heavyweight champion Fury, knocking down the Briton before losing a hotly-disputed decision in Riyadh.

In a quirk of traditional boxing rules, Fury’s WBC title was not on the line. However, Joshua joked Ngannou held the title on merit and that he was now the WBC’s champion.

“Francis Ngannou beat the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, I should be WBC champion of the world right now,” Joshua joked, in an apparent dig at Fury, .

Joshua seemed to make a gun gesture at his preferred next target, Fury, who was sat in the front row at the Kingdom Arena.

Fury is set to box Usyk in Riyadh on 18 May, to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years. Fury holds the WBC title, while Ukraine’s Usyk is the unified champion.

Fury vs Usyk was originally scheduled for February, but the bout collapsed on short notice when the Briton suffered a cut over his eye.

Asked if wanted to fight the winner of Fury and Usyk, who are set to box in Riyadh on 18 May for the chance to become undisputed heavyweight world champion, Joshua said: “I just want to fight, yes.”

(Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Ngannou congratulated his conqueror and admitted afterwards that he never even felt the final punch.

“That was a clean one,” Ngannou said of the final blow. “In fact, I didn’t feel the punch. That’s what the knockout is about. I don’t feel any pain. That’s how I know I was knocked out ...

“It was quite special because it stopped me. It did what Tyson Fury couldn’t do. It wasn’t my day, and he’s just way better than me today. It sucks, but it’s the game, we all know that. It’s the game.”

Joshua was full of praise for the UFC champion and urged the Cameroonian to continue his boxing career.

“He’s a great fighter man, he’s a great fighter,” Joshua said. ”He’s done well, He’s a dreamer and a risk taker. That story of his, I don’t think it should be clouded by tonight.”

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