- Anthon Joshua is set to take on Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on March 8
- The UFC legend came agonisingly close to defeating Tyson Fury last year
- He’s ready! We’re seeing a new and confident AJ now – Listen to The Hook
Anthony Joshua believes that watching Francis Ngannou knock down and come within a whisker of a sensational victory over Tyson Fury has given him the advantage of being forewarned when he fights the UFC legend in Riyadh on March 8.
Joshua, having resurrected his own career in Saudi Arabia last month by toppling Swedish giant Otto Wallin, came face to face with Ngannou at the glitzy London media launch of their upcoming fight.
AJ said: ‘If Tyson underestimated Ngannou, (who was in the first boxing match of his career in combat sports) I sure won’t. Francis has lost the element of surprise with me.’
Joshua, who watched Fury dropped by Ngannou on pre-dawn television at home, went on: ‘We knew Francis had a reputation as the biggest puncher in the world but the surprise was how well he boxed.
Anthony Joshua has claimed that Francis Ngannou will not be able to benefit from the element of surprise
The former UFC heavyweight champion almost caused an historic shock in his first professional boxing match
‘He was exceptional on the inside and made life very complicated for Tyson. So much so that I do belong to the opinion that he beat Fury.’
The Gypsy King recovered sufficiently to scrape a split decision but Joshua says: ‘The way I see it, knock downs and the aggression win and it was Francis who delivered on those scores ‘
That and his own knock-out performance against Wallin have convinced AJ to confirm Ben Davison as his permanent trainer, after see-sawing between Britain and the US with frequent changes.
He says: ‘Ben has played a big part in reminding me that my body and my mentality are made for me to go back to seeking knock-outs.
‘I’m not going to waste any more time messing about with boxing on the back foot. Nor am I going to wait ten rounds to land the knock out.
Yes, as people are saying, I do think you’re seeing me back to the old AJ. ‘
Joshua adds that he is now taking close personal study of his opponents rather waiting to work them out in the opening round.
So saying he opened his mobile phone to share a scroll down of his own bullet point notes Ngannou. ‘Look’ he said. ‘Not too closely but these are notes I’ve already made about him. His style, where he’s dangerous, where he might get caught. By fight night I’ll go into the ring knowing everything about him.
‘All I need to know about getting another f***ing knock out. ‘
Joshua admits that the mega-millions purses being paid by the oil rich Saudi Kingdom are a primary factor in these huge fights going to the desert.
Joshua, a two-time heavyweight champion, will hope to continue his career resurgence after dismantling Otto Wallin in December
An extra motivation is expectation that victory over Ngannou will reopen the door to huge potential fights for him ‘which the boxing public have been dying to see for years now.’
Next Deontay Wilder, assuming the Bronze Bomber can recover from the mystic trance in which he lost to Joseph Parker last month and record a big win on the March 8 undercard.
‘After that,’ he says, me and Tyson at long last. ‘Whether not Fury wins his February 18 clash with Olexsandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title – and or their rematch.
‘Whatever happens with those two,’ he says ,’ me and Fury is still a huge fight. ‘