Junior dos Santos: Francis Ngannou showed ‘these guys are beatable’ in boxing

Long before Francis Ngannou knocked down Tyson Fury and booked a fight with Anthony Joshua, former UFC heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos was often praised as the best boxer in MMA.

Dos Santos always talked about crossing over between sports and hoped that he could land a marquee matchup against a premiere heavyweight, however the Brazilian ultimately never had the chance. But after watching Ngannou drag Fury to a razor-close decision and then pivot right into a fight with Joshua on March 8, dos Santos hopes his fellow ex-champ’s success will open the door for more fighters like himself to get similar opportunities.

“For me, it was exciting, and we are getting closer and closer to the moment that I will do my debut in boxing,” dos Santos told MMA Fighting. “I’m thinking about doing a partnership with Francis so we can beat all of these boxers out there now.

“These guys are beatable. Francis Ngannou proved that. Our style of fighting is different. It’s not usual for them. It’s the real thing. We are going to find a way to beat you up and they are not used to it. The whole world is going to be excited to watch.”

While the official result on Ngannou’s boxing record may be a loss, dos Santos believes the Cameroon native deserved to beat Fury regardless of the judges’ scorecards. Dos Santos attended the fight and then re-watched it again after returning home, and there’s no doubt in his mind that Ngannou should’ve gotten the nod.

As it stands, dos Santos believes Ngannou still walked away as a massive winner no matter what shows up on his résumé.

“Francis won that fight,” dos Santos said. “It’s professional boxing, it’s not amateur boxing that every touch makes a point. No, it’s professional boxing. It’s about effectiveness. It’s about making your opponent walk away. It’s about putting your opponent down on the mat. That’s what Francis did. We could see that Tyson was avoiding the fight. Of course, he’s an amazing fighter, but Francis was the aggressor there. I know that a lot of specialists say Tyson Fury [won], but I think Francis Ngannou won this fight.

“Even if they didn’t give Francis the victory, it was a victory. Everybody saw Francis beat the best heavyweight boxer, maybe in history for what Tyson has done in his career. That was just amazing.”

Dos Santos confesses he didn’t give Ngannou much of a chance ahead of the Fury fight, but he has a much different feeling after watching it. That’s why he’s not discounting the possibility that Ngannou shocks the world again in his upcoming fight with Joshua.

Perhaps the biggest knock on the British heavyweight is that he really doesn’t like getting hit, and that could be a recipe for disaster against a knockout artist like Ngannou.

“It’s a different kind of power,” dos Santos said. “I remember Mike Tyson, his power, he was so powerful and also fast. Francis Ngannou doesn’t have that speed, but in terms of power, I believe he has even more than Mike Tyson had at that time. It’s something really impressive.

“Francis has everything to change the whole fight [with his power], as he did with Tyson Fury. He just needs one punch.”

As much as he wants to join Ngannou in boxing, dos Santos will take his gloves off for his next fight when he meets Alan Belcher in the main event of the Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA card on Saturday. After dispatching fellow UFC veteran Fabricio Werdum in his promotional debut, dos Santos now looks to add another title to his collection in his fight with Belcher, which is for the inaugural Gamebred Bareknuckle MMA heavyweight title.

That remains his sole focus for now, but dos Santos expects that he’ll follow Ngannou into boxing sooner rather than later. He previously called for a matchup against Deontay Wilder, and dos Santos believes that’s still a fight that makes a lot of sense — and perhaps they could share a card with Ngannou after he gets through Joshua.

“I’ve been looking for this boxing fight for a long time,” Dos Santos said. “The big [heavyweight boxing names] were always kind of denying the fights, and the other guys that were possible to happen, it wasn’t really interesting to anybody. I think it’s time to do something like that. If they really do something like that, the MMA world, me and Francis Ngannou will shock the world again. Giving these boxing guys some bad times.

“We are closer and closer to making that happen. That’s my thing and that’s what I feel comfortable doing, especially if we are able to make something like me and Francis on the same card. That would be a big night. The MMA guys against the boxing guys.”

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