Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua returns to the ring to face Francis Ngannou on Friday evening for a ten round non title fight, and we’ve taken a closer look at the fight.

This might not be the fight that fans want and have been close to getting but it should, nevertheless, be an interesting battle between two fighters with something to prove. Joshua needs a win to push himself towards contention for a title fight, whereas Ngannou will want a win to prove that his close match against Tyson Fury was not a one-off. 

Anthony Joshua – What to Expect?

Anthony Joshua is the former heavyweight champion who some view as taking his eyes off the prize as he lost his titles and is now looking to regain them for the third time. A convincing win here and he would have a good shout at taking on the winner of the fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, who will meet in May. 

This will be AJ’s 31st fight of his career with a record of 27 wins against three defeats. 24 out of those 27 wins were by knockout and one of the losses was inside the distance. The Englishman was knocked out by American Andy Ruiz Jr. back in 2019 in what was the most surprising result of both fighters’ careers. Joshua has certainly struggled against Usyk, finding the movement of the Ukrainian fighter too much to handle and losing twice against him. He has managed wins against Ruiz, in the rematch, as well as Kubrat Pulev, Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin. Whilst none of those are standout fighters in the heavyweight division, he can argue that he can only beat what is in front of him. The fight against Ngannou is another unorthodox battle against someone who made his name in MMA but certainly put up a good fight against Tyson Fury. Going into this contest, Joshua is on a three fight winning streak where he has beaten Franklin on points in London before stopping Helenius in seven rounds at the same O2 venue. The fight against Wallin was over in round five.

Joshua has spoken about his hunger and desire to win back the title belts he lost but he knows he cannot afford any more slip ups in the build up to a potential title fight. He will hope that he is first in line to take on the winner of Usyk versus Fury but will be aware that he will need to continue on his recent positive run and win in a convincing manner where possible. This fight against Ngannou gives him the chance to do both those things, he will look to dominate the fight and put his superior boxing knowledge to the fore to get the better of the powerful Ngannou. 

Francis Ngannou – What to Expect?

Francis Ngannou is one of the biggest names in Mixed Martial Arts after dominating the scene in the UFC. His move over to professional boxing is still in its early stages though, having only had one fight so far. He was not given much of a chance against Tyson Fury last time out, with many calling it a mismatch. However, he took on the task of being the underdog and revelled in it, wanting to prove all the doubters wrong. He put up an excellent fight and only lost out to Fury on points in the end. The decision was a somewhat contentious one, with Ngannou sending Fury to the floor in round three. Fury eventually did enough to win over the judges, but only just, and Ngannou can say that he won the respect of boxing fans around the world with his performance. This, only his second professional boxing fight, is against another of the sport’s top athletes and gives him the chance to take on a multiple World Champion, once again as a big underdog. He will hope to have learnt from his first fight and will go into this one confident of making Anthony Joshua feel uncomfortable and rattled. 

The feeling is that we will learn a lot about Anthony Joshua from this fight. Where exactly is he in his career? How much has he adapted and how determined is he to get back to the top? A loss on Friday night and he will know his career is on the line, with retirement a genuine option as his reputation will take a big hit. Some will point to the fact that Fury didn’t take the fight seriously and wasn’t in good enough shape to take on Ngannou, whereas Joshua will have taken note of that and surely won’t make the same mistake himself. 

The pressure is all on AJ here, so what can we expect? In all likelihood, he will try to keep the fight close in the opening rounds, before trying to put on some sort of a show. He will surely want to win the fight with a knockout, so that is something we should look out for. Joshua is the heavy favourite to win the match, with an odds of 1.30 so it might be better trying to back him to win on KO/TKO at 1.50. If, on the other hand, you are backing Francis Ngannou to pull off a surprise win, he can be backed at 3.80 in the fight winner market.

The Joshua vs Ngannou fight will be the last on the card on Friday evening with the undercard proving to be compelling too. The fight prior to the main event sees Zhilei Zhang take on Joseph Parker with the former looking to defend his WBO title after back to back knockout wins over James Joyce. 

The full Friday night card:


Anthony Joshua vs. Francis Ngannou

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Israil Madrimov vs. Magomed Kurbanov

Gavin Gwynne vs. Mark Chamberlain

Justis Huni vs. Kevin Lerena

Jack McGann vs. Louis Green

Roman Fury vs. Martin Svarc

Ziyad Almaayouf vs. Christian Lopez Flores

Andrii Novytski vs. Juan Torres

Last Updated: 07.03.2024