Advertisement

Anthony Joshua promises ‘straight-up war’ with Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua has vowed that his fight with Francis Ngannou on Friday will be a “straight-up war”.

Former two-time heavyweight champion Joshua will box Ngannou, a former UFC champion, in Riyadh, in the latter’s second fight in the sport. The Cameroonian, 37, made his boxing debut in October, flooring WBC champion Tyson Fury en route to a controversial decision loss.

Now Ngannou has returned to Riyadh for another clash with a Briton, as he prepares to face “AJ”, 34. Joshua’s last fight also came in the Saudi city, as he stopped Otto Wallin in five rounds in December. With that, the Olympic gold medalist made it three wins from three fights in 2023, following his stoppage of Robert Helenius and decision victory over Jermaine Franklin.

Joshua vs Ngannou has been billed as “Knockout Chaos”, and the Briton is confident that the tagline will prove fitting.

“Just straight-up war, relentlessness, a good fight,” Joshua said at a press conference on Wednesday (6 March), when asked what fans can expect on Friday. “That’s what everyone’s here for, a good fight.

“His first dream was to be a boxer, which people forget. He started MMA when he was what, 24 or 26? I know what I’m up against, I look at all these small details, but I [also] spar, I do my film study, all that type of stuff. I keep it professional.

“But on the night’s on the night, that’s different. All that textbook stuff goes out the window, and you’ve just got to be relentless. Give it your best, it’s already written in the stars what’s gonna happen. I’m just gonna follow my destiny.”

Ngannou last fought in mixed martial arts in January 2022, retaining the UFC heavyweight title with a decision win against Ciryl Gane.

Ngannou left the UFC in early 2023, vacating the promotion’s heavyweight belt in the process, before signing for the Professional Fighters League later in the year. The “Predator” is expected to resume his MMA career with the company before the end of 2024.