Francis Ngannou to Find More KO Opportunities Against Anthony Joshua, says Coach

Francis Ngannou could find more knockout opportunities in his upcoming boxing match against Anthony Joshua than he had against Tyson Fury, his long-time MMA coach Eric Nicksick told MMA Fighting recently.

The former UFC heavyweight champion shook up the combat sports world when he scored a knockdown against Fury in their crossover fight October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Though he went on to lose the fight, by split decision, he won the event because of an immortal picture in which he, a boxing debutant, had Fury — one of the modern greats of that sport — on the floor.

Ngannou will no longer have as much of a shock factor heading into a fight with Joshua, Nicksick said, but the Las Vegas-based trainer believes they still have more skills to show off in the March 8 match against Joshua in Riyadh.

“Tyson does such a good job of movement, and angles, and kind of just rolling off the punches and things like that,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting.

Nicksick specifically said he is not trying to claim that Joshua is “more susceptible” to knockout blows. But is, perhaps, “more susceptible to us finding him” because of the difference in the way he moves when compared to the more awkward Fury.

“I feel like Anthony is going to be there more often,” he said. “He’s more of a plot fighter, kind of works well behind his jab, but I feel like we can find him there in the pocket rather than having to chase him down or try to hunt him down.

“So there’s some differences there, but by that style of fight, if he’s going to be there in the pocket; Francis will find you.”

In 20 MMA matches, 14 of which were in the UFC, Ngannou scored 17 wins against just three losses, winning 12 by knockout and four by submission.

Some of his most impressive wins in the Octagon included knockout wins over Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez, and Stipe Miocic.

While he competes in a different combat sport, Joshua, too, is renowned for his finishing ability and has notable knockout wins over Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and, most recently, Otto Wallin.

The match between Ngannou and Joshua, Nicksick said, will be a “fun” one.

“There’s the X-factor that our guy always is going to carry, and that’s that power,” he added. 

“Once he hits you, once he’s able to kind of dictate his power on somebody and make them move and make them vulnerable, I think that’s when really you’re gonna start seeing the good things happen in that fight.”

Anthony Joshua regards it as his ‘undisputed fight’

Since Joshua got into the pro boxing business, one of his main goals has been to unify all of the world heavyweight championship titles and become the undisputed ruler of the division. 

The closest he came was when he had collected the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles, needing only the WBC to complete the picture, but lost all three belts to Oleksandr Usyk in back-to-back bouts in 2021 and 2022.

Usyk and Fury will now vie for the undisputed title when they trade punches February 23 in Riyadh.

Joshua, though, regards his bout with Ngannou as a fight of a similar magnitude.

“Ngannou is my undisputed fight,” he told The MMA Hour. “Because you’re only as good as your last fight, and I respect him a lot. 

“He ain’t easy money. He’s a hard night’s work. And you know what’s crazy? So am I. I’m a hard night’s work for anyone. 

“So let’s go, it’s going to be fireworks.”

The Joshua-Ngannou event features other fights, too

There will be at least eight fights in total on the Matchroom-Queensberry co-promotion March 8. 

Joshua and Ngannou will compete in the main event, with Zhilei Zhang against Joseph Parker offering another heavyweight bout on the bill. 

In other notable fights, Rey Vargas competes against Nick Ball and Mark Chamberlain fights Gavin Gwynne.

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