Anthony Joshua knocks Francis Ngannou out cold with ruthless performance in Saudi Arabia

‘AJ’ dropped the ex-UFC champion in round one and twice in round two, with the final knockdown decisive

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
,Jack Rathborn
Saturday 09 March 2024 08:54 GMT
Anthony Joshua looking to build on knockout win over Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua knocked Francis Ngannou out cold on Friday to position himself for a shot at the undisputed heavyweight title and the winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua dropped Ngannou in round one with a clean right hand – when the ex-UFC champion went southpaw – before doing the same in round two. After Ngannou beat the referee’s count following the second knockdown, Joshua knocked the Cameroonian out cold with his very next punch, another right cross.

With the win, “AJ” made it back-to-back wins under Ben Davison, a former coach of Fury. With Davison in his corner, 34-year-old Joshua stopped Otto Wallin in five rounds in December.

Like that win over Wallin, and Ngannou’s boxing debut against Fury in October, Joshua’s victory took place in Riyadh. Billed as “Knockout Chaos”, Friday’s event was the latest fight card put on by Turki Al-Sheikh in Saudi Arabia.

“It is what it is,” said Joshua, a former two-time unified champion. “We welcomed [Ngannou to boxing], he’s a great champion. It doesn’t take away from his capability. He can come again, I told him he can stay in boxing. It’s up to him.

“The Ben Davison performance centre [is the reason for my improvement]. I’m hungry, stay hungry, and all that good stuff. I don’t know [if I’m coming into my peak]. It only takes one shot.

“If that was me [losing], you’d be saying, ‘Joshua should retire.’ I don’t know if I’m in my peak. I’m pushing day by day, who knows where it will take me? In five years, I won’t be fighting no more, this will be a distant memory. I just want to fight. Yes, [the winner of Fury vs Usyk].”

Joshua scored three knockdowns and sealed a second-round KO (Getty Images)

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn added: “I’m so proud of him. His Excellency [Al-Sheikh] said if we win this fight, we’ll fight the winner of Fury vs Usyk. You’re looking at the baddest man on the planet.

“On this form, there’s no man that can beat this man in the heavyweight division. Tyson Fury, please beat Usyk, you’ll get the biggest fight in the history of the sport.

“That was one of the most destructive knockouts I’ve ever seen. What I said would happen happened, he destroyed Ngannou. He’s a savage, a beast, I can’t wait for him to beat Tyson Fury.”

Attention now turns to the undisputed fight between WBC champion Fury and unified champion Usyk, who will collide in Riyadh on 18 May.

Ngannou was out cold on the canvas in Riyadh (Reuters)

Fury and Usyk were due to box each other in February, but their fight was postponed on short notice when the “Gypsy King” sustained a cut over his eye.

Fury, 35, survived a stunning knockdown by Ngannou in October to win a controversial decision against the MMA fighter.

Ngannou, 37, last fought in mixed martial arts in January 2022, retaining the UFC heavyweight title, which he vacated upon leaving the promotion in early 2023.

In Friday’s co-main event, Joseph Parker survived two knockdowns to outpoint Zhilei Zhang and win the WBO interim heavyweight title.

Zhang knocked down Parker with a southpaw straight in round three, before dropping the New Zealander with a short right hook in round eight. However, it was Parker who did the better work across 12 rounds, securing a majority-decision win over the Chinese veteran (113-113, 114-112, 115-111).

The result saw Parker, 32, build upon his victory over Deontay Wilder, whom he outpointed in December.

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