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A few months ago Anthony Joshua would have been a MASSIVE odds-on favourite for a fight against former UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou. Not anymore.

Joshua vs Ngannou, set for March 8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is now a live match after Ngannou proved a revelation on his pro boxing debut – taking WBC and lineal heavyweight king Tyson Fury to the brink before losing a disputed split decision.

Francis Ngannou Anthony Joshua Frank Warren Oleksandr Usyk Tyson Fury

While Joshua will start a firm favourite, this is not the foregone conclusion many would be expected before Ngannou shocked ‘The Gypsy King’. As promoter Frank Warren knows only too well.

Ahh s***, here we go again' - Anthony Joshua posts GTA meme reaction to Francis  Ngannou fight being signed and confirms date | talkSPORT

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Warren of course promotes Fury, and he saw the dream of that unification showdown vs Oleksandr Usyk almost wrecked by Ngannou’s supershow. He know believes Joshua faces a similarly stern test come March 8.

Frank Warren verdict

He told DAZN: “I think it’s a big jeopardy fight for AJ. I think he’s got the benefit what Tyson didn’t have going into the fight in as much that you’ve now seen him in a boxing ring. You know he can fight and you know what to expect.

“But then I think to myself what is Ngannou gonna learn from what his first fight was. Is he gonna improve? If he improves he’s gonna be a real handful. We know he can punch, he’s strong, he’s tough. It’s not a foregone conclusion whatsoever because I know now he can box – he’s a switch hitter who can punch and he can certainly fight inside.

“I think it’s gonna be an interesting fight, there’s no doubt about it. I think it will be a knockout, either way.”

Joshua normally towers over his opponents, but that size differential won’t be there this time, with Ngannou a fearsome physical specimen as well as a surprisingly adept boxer.

“This guy is a big, strong guy. Coming from the background he comes from, UFC, you know when they’re infighting, they’re used to claiming hold of each other and pulling each other around. He’s not somebody you’re just gonna push him around.”


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