Francis Ngannou is deadly serious about his second chance to shock the boxing world.
Ngannou faces former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in a 10-round bout on March 8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Despite being MMA’s lineal heavyweight champion and nearly defeating Tyson Fury in his professional boxing debut, Ngannou once again finds himself poised as a heavy underdog in the contest, with Joshua set as high as a 5-to-1 favorite on some sportsbooks. But “The Predator,” as always, remains undeterred.
Speaking recently on the High Performance podcast, Ngannou responded to a pre-fight promise of Joshua’s regarding a quote about breaking Ngannou’s spirit and taking his soul.
“They say never say never. Nothing is impossible, right?” the former UFC heavyweight champion said. “We don’t know the strength of Anthony Joshua, but even though I don’t believe he has that strength, but we’re going to find out in two months. We’re going to find out, and I think the reverse is going to happen. I’m going to be the one taking his soul.”
Ngannou, 37, stunned the combat sports world in November by fighting to a split decision against Fury in his much-anticipated debut in the squared circle. Despite losing the fight on two judges’ scorecards, Ngannou still pushed Fury to his limits and even knocked down boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion in a performance that blew away the expectations of many and left boxing lifers such as Eddie Hearn and Carl Frampton singing his praises.
The whirlwind experience capped off an unprecedented journey for Ngannou that saw him go to war against the UFC and ultimately depart the the promotion as its heavyweight champion. Ngannou eventually landed the Joshua fight after Deontay Wilder suffered a shocking upset loss to Joseph Parker and scuttled plans for Joshua vs. Wilder.
Currently ranked as a top-10 heavyweight boxer in the world by the WBC, Ngannou could now find himself in prime position to challenge for the unified heavyweight titles following his meeting with Joshua and depending on the result of Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk on May 18.
So even though he came within a hair’s breadth of pulling off one of the greatest upsets in combat sports history, Ngannou is no longer dwelling on the judges’ call against Fury.
“Why? I mean, I won,” Ngannou said. “Look at me now. Look at my life. Look at where I was when you think I lost. You think because some foolish judges make some decision, that changes anything in my life? My family that I was telling you about, they were sitting in the first row watching that fight. The dream that I was carrying since I was a kid, I was that night living that dream. On top of the world, I was there. And for all the people that [have] been doubting me, I was there proving them wrong. For everybody that ever looked down at me, I was there proving them wrong. They were home watching me on their TV.
“I have won everything. You think because some judges make a decision? It’s not a court. The only decision that a judge can make to change my life is a court, if they sign me to go to jail. But I’m out here. In fact, because of that fight, from that fight I won this fight. I won everything. I won everything that night in that fight. I think I won everything from boxing, and the least that they could get back was to get that, ‘Oh, you son of a b****, you’re not taking everything from us.’ What would have happened if they had given me a decision? It makes boxing look really bad. They need to save face at some point. I understand it.”