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‘Judgment day’ in Saudi Arabia as Joshua, Ngannou lock horns

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It’s a career-defining moment for the duo of Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou as they lock horns in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in what promises to be a very feisty festival of heavy punches.

Joshua, 34, originally from Nigeria but fighting under the British flag, is aiming to reestablish himself as the top dog in heavyweight boxing after losing his belts to Ukraine’s Alexander Usyk in 2021.

Successive victories against Jermaine Franklin and Otto Wallin have no doubt shown that Joshua still have some fire in his belly since losing twice to Usyk, but a victory against Ngannou, who lost controversially to WBC champion, Tyson Fury, would definitely propel him towards the top of the heavyweight ecosystem, once again.

Ngannou, in October, in his maiden outing in the boxing ring, battered Fury, who was awarded a controversial split-decision win on the night.

One judge believed that Ngannou, who knocked Fury down heavily in the third round, had won the fight 95-94.

This would be Joshua’s fourth fight in twelve months.

He has relished being very active of late: “activity is the key. On your way up, you’re active, you’re showcasing. Your skills tend to get to the top and it all slows down. First time since 2017 I’ve been fighting three times in a year. It’s crazy, but the activity will pay off and I think everything’s going to work out for me Friday, for sure.”

Joshua is emphatic about his plan to knockout tonight’s opponent.

His words: “I can’t wait for the opportunity to show my skills and combat this person who thinks he can knock me out. I believe I can knock him out. Definitely. I would love to knock him out and make a statement.

See also  Don't quit boxing -Joshua advises Ngannou after knockout

“He has to be ready for the shots which are coming his way because I’m a man who will be standing in front of him, bringing him a lot of hell and problems as well.”

When asked about his strategy for the fight, Joshua emphasized his basic boxing ability and the need to be relentless. He said, “Be relentless really and don’t fold. Be relentless. Be me and I’ll get the win. Be hungry, definitely.”

Fresh from his clash with Fury in Riyadh, Ngannou returns to same city, seeking to make a strong statement. If the October fight was to announce himself in the boxing world, the 37 year old former UFC heavyweight champion sees this as an opportunity to cement his status as a serious contender in the division.

He has the burden of proving that his clash with Fury was more than a flash in the pan.

Of course, the heavy-handed Cameroonian has admitted that he is an underdog ahead of the showdown but in heavyweight boxing, one heavy punch could make a difference on the night.

He flaunted his hard-hitting prowess in UFC and also did that in emphatic fashion against Fury.

Debutant Ngannou dropped Fury in October 2023

The former MMA star has vowed put AJ to sleep on the canvas:
“I believe if I land on anyone, I will knock them out. The question is how to land? That’s the hardest thing. I want to knock him out. I didn’t have any experience in boxing but don’t make any mistake. I’ve had a lot of experience in life and a lot of experience fighting. I’ve built my fighting spirit as high as anyone else. I know I can fight.”

See also  Joshua relocates to gym, wants more fights in 2024

Joshua, too, is a knockout specialist, having 24 knockouts in 27 heavyweight contests.

A win for either fighter boosts his career but loss would be a huge setback.


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