Ngannou Is A ‘Dangerous' Fight For Joshua

Anthony Joshua meets Francis Ngannou in a fight that fewer and fewer people have referred to as a circus act since Tyson Fury had his hands full with Ngannou last October.

Instead, a rebuilding Joshua, 27-3 (24 KOs), meets an inspired Ngannou, with many seeing Ngannou as a far more credible threat this time around, than when he was a huge underdog and written off by the boxing public against Fury.

Ireland’s former world middleweight champion Andy Lee is not one who necessarily rates Ngannou’s chances, but he respects the threat of the 0-1 heavyweight contender and former UFC champion. 

“Yeah, but if you take a step back and just look at him [Ngannou], he’s a huge man,” explained Lee. 

“He’s bigger than AJ, he will be 275, 280lbs but he’s solid muscle. He’s as tough as they come, MMA fighters are tough. They can take punishment. They can take punches and Ngannou showed that they can give it back as well. He’s very patient, poised and for both of them, there’s benefits from the Fury fight [from last year]. 

“AJ will benefit because he can look at it and study him [Ngannou] and what he’s like in the boxing ring, but Ngannou will benefit because he had 10 rounds with Tyson and got that out of his system, that was the first big boxing fight for him.”

The show is billed as Knockout Chaos, and the stakes are undoubtedly higher for the 34-year-old English fighter, who has the burden of expectation on his shoulders and who wants another run at the heavyweight titles.

“I think it’s a dangerous fight for Joshua,” Lee went on. “You have to favor Joshua hugely, with his pedigree, Olympic champion, unified champion and all the rest, but Ngannou is a tough man and very determined. It’s an interesting fight, a very interesting fight.”

Lee may have been scolded for saying similar things last October, but this year Ngannou is seen as a hazard. Lee will be there on the night, with his heavyweight Joseph Parker starring in the co-main against Chinese star Zhilei Zhang. For some, that is the fight that is flying under the radar, but Lee reckons that arguably the whole show is.

“People are sleeping on these fights, all of the fights, Fury-Oleksandr Usyk was coming up and there wasn’t much about it,” said Lee. “Joshua-Ngannou and Joe and Zhang are coming up, there’s not much about it. I think people are getting comfortable with these Saudi fights happening all the time! These fights had been coming along once a year [in the past], these big fights, and people were so pumped for it, but now they’re happening so regularly it’s kind of like, ‘Oh yeah’. It’s become the norm.

“Joshua-Ngannou is going to be a great fight. I do think it’s going to be a great fight, but for the boxing purists, it’s Zhang versus Joe that people are going to want to watch. 

“It’s a top, top-level fight with two top-level fighters. It’s worthy of a full world title in a different era or a different time. There’s an interim [WBO] title on the line, but it’s as good as any world title fight.”

And Joshua-Ngannou is now more fight than attraction, for many, if not all. It is for Lee.

“He’s a solid man,” Lee said of the ex-MMA star. “You can’t move him, so it will be interesting.”