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Boxing: after Fury, Ngannou faces the Joshua challenge

Four months after making Tyson Fury falter, MMA star Francis Ngannou continues his path in boxing and puts on the gloves to challenge another heavyweight of the rings, the British Anthony Joshua, on Friday in Saudi Arabia.

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Boxing: after Fury, Ngannou faces the Joshua challenge

Four months after making Tyson Fury falter, MMA star Francis Ngannou continues his path in boxing and puts on the gloves to challenge another heavyweight of the rings, the British Anthony Joshua, on Friday in Saudi Arabia. The 37-year-old Cameroonian shocked the world of combat sports for his boxing debut on October 29 by sending Tyson Fury, WBC heavyweight champion and huge favorite, to the mat in the third round and knocking out the “Gipsy King” as Never.

The - controversial - decision of the judges ultimately went in favor of Fury but the “Predator” had almost achieved one of the greatest feats in boxing history. If he did not achieve victory, Ngannou in any case left Riyadh with all the esteem of the boxing world, living up to his reputation as a formidable puncher.

After Fury, it was Anthony Joshua, former holder of the WBA, IBF and WBO titles in the category, who accepted the Ngannou challenge and the lucrative deal that comes with it. Joshua remains on a convincing victory by referee stoppage against the Swede Otto Wallin in December, his third victory of 2023 after two defeats against the Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk, the man who stripped him of his belts.

“Friday is going to be crazy so I can't wait to show my technical qualities and fight this person who thinks he can knock me out,” Joshua told Ngannou. “I think I can knock him out. Absolutely. I would love to knock him out and show what I’m worth.” “He must be ready to take the blows that will come his way because I am a man who will stand in front of him and give him hell,” warned the Briton

“Of course I can knock out Joshua,” Ngannou replied. “I think if I manage to hit my opponent, I knock him out. The question is how to hit. It’s the hardest thing.” “But I believe in my determination, in my dedication. I believe in the work I do to get what I want.” With this second foray into the ring, Ngannou continues his path in English boxing, the discipline that made him dream before he devoted himself to mixed martial arts.

Starting from nothing to reach the heights of the UFC, the most prestigious MMA league in the world, the Cameroonian, now in the competing PFL league, now hopes to continue his two careers in parallel.

“That was always the plan. After leaving the UFC, we supported Francis in his desire to do boxing. It was very important to him and it was his priority,” Pete Murray, boss of the PFL, explained to AFP. “That played a big role in his signing with us, offering him that flexibility in addition to allowing him to be competitive in MMA.”

For his first boxing fight, “everyone underestimated Francis, including Tyson Fury,” he continues. “Now for his second fight, I don't think AJ underestimates Francis as much as Tyson. I am confident that Francis will show AJ even more technical and physical abilities than against Tyson. I think Francis will continue to shock the world, not just in the cages but in the ring as well.”

Among the ringside observers, the two men will be able to see Tyson Fury, who will fight Oleksandr Usyk for the unified heavyweight title on May 18. The winner will become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis, who held every major belt between 1999 and 2000.

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