Francis Ngannou on fighting Anthony Joshua: ‘I’ve heard that he doesn’t have a chin. I’m going to find out’

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Francis Ngannou plans to test the chin of Anthony Joshua.

2024 kicked things off with a bang last week as it was announced that Ngannou will face Joshua in a 10-round heavyweight boxing match expected to take place in March in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The bout was announced two weeks after Joshua put on a showcase performance against Otto Wallin on the same evening his then-planned next opponent, Deontay Wilder, suffered a surprising upset loss to Joseph Parker, ruining that long-awaited matchup. And according to Ngannou, that’s when he got his shot at Joshua.

“That’s when I stepped in,” Ngannou said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I watched the Wilder fight and then after that I watched the Joshua fight, and I was like, there’s an opportunity here. So I made a tweet first and then received a call. [Laughs.]”

While Ngannou was not in attendance for the event, he did watch the matchups intently as he hopes to face both men eventually. And while he was impressed with Joshua’s performance, he also believes he can offer up a lot more resistance than Wallin did.

“He looked amazing. Respect to him, congratulations to him,” Ngannou said of Joshua. “He was doing his job properly, his speed there, everything. He was sharp, very sharp. But on the other hand, I think there wasn’t a response in front of him. I think I will have a better response in front of him that will put him not in such a comfortable position. Things will change. It’s going to be different. I will not just stay there and look at him. It’s going to be different. I’m going to throw some bombs out there for him to deal with. I think he’s going to be mindful of what he’s doing.”

That’s a lot of confidence for a man with only one professional boxing match under his belt, but Ngannou has reason to feel that way. Last October, Ngannou made his boxing debut against lineal boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and though he lost a controversial split decision, the former UFC heavyweight champion also dramatically exceeded expectations, out-boxing Fury for stretches of the fight and even dropping “The Gypsy King” in the third round.

After that bout, Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn, who had been critical of Ngannou’s chances against Fury beforehand, gave the former UFC champion his props but claimed he would be “easy work” for Joshua. Now the two are set to find out, and Ngannou has his own take on how the fight might play out.

“Eddie is a promoter,” Ngannou said. “That’s a routine for him. He says the same thing all the time, just bot about Francis Ngannou but somebody else. That’s just what he does. The date is set. It’s two months from now, and if any of them think they’re going to have easy money, that’s too bad for them.

“If AJ takes the punch that Fury took, I don’t guarantee that he’s standing up. I’ve heard that he doesn’t have a chin. I’m going to find out. [Laughs.]”

That being said, Ngannou has no ill will towards Joshua. The two are bonded by their African heritage (Ngannou is from Cameroon and Joshua is of Nigerian descent) and once he’s defeated Joshua, Ngannou suggests that perhaps they can run things back on African soil.

“At the end of the day, it’s great stuff for both of us,” Ngannou said. “He could be my brother and I’d still fight him because it elevates us both, it elevates the sport, it elevates the continent. It’s not about a fight. You are not fighting somebody because you hate him, you fight him because it’s a challenge and the fight always elevates both fighters.

“Eddie Hearn said a lot of s***, but one thing he said that makes sense is maybe a potential rematch in Africa with Joshua. I think that sounds cool. We will call that Black Excellence.”

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