Francis Ngannou is a big risk for Anthony Joshua and boxing world is divided on fighters with immense knockout power – here’s who they see winning

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Most experts are backing Anthony Joshua to overcome Francis Ngannou next week but a few brave ones are going against the grain.

On Friday, two of the hardest hitters from the worlds of MMA and boxing collide at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Ngannou has put his MMA career on hold for big boxing bouts with the divisional elite

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Ngannou has put his MMA career on hold for big boxing bouts with the divisional eliteCredit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

Joshua will be bidding to save boxing’s reputation after the Cameroonian cage fighter dropped and almost stopped Tyson Fury during their nip-and-tuck affair in October.

Ahead of the Fury fight few gave Ngannou even the slimmest chance of victory but many felt he had done enough to win it when the final bell sounded.

It’s a similar story here, with most anticipating that Joshua, a two-time unified heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, should get the better of the boxing novice – although not everyone agrees.

Here, talkSPORT.com takes a look at some stand-out industry picks for Joshua vs Ngannou.

Who is backing Ngannou?

Dan Hardy

Former UFC welterweight contender Dan Hardy was one of the few experts who stuck his neck out and picked Ngannou to ‘surprise’ Fury.

And, he was equally insistent on Ngannou’s chances against Joshua when he caught up with talkSPORT.come earlier this week.

Dan Hardy has picked Francis Ngannou to overcome the odds once again

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Dan Hardy has picked Francis Ngannou to overcome the odds once again

“First of all, he’s got the confidence that he can do 10 rounds now after doing 10 rounds against Fury, which means that we’re going to get a Ngannou who is going to be more willing to engage and more willing to push a pace.

“Rather than kind of stand his ground and pick his punches like he did against Fury.

UFC and Boxing star Francis Ngannou shows off his heaving hitting as he smashes punch machine for impressive score

“I feel like he’s going to be a bit more of a bully against AJ. And I don’t think that works out very well for AJ because you’ve got to remember he’s in the process of rebuilding himself right now.

“Ngannou is 0-1 in professional boxing, and he’s a huge, huge risk for AJ. Now, Fury is going to look at that risk and go ‘yeah, okay, but I’ve got the skills, I’ll be able to tie him up and make him miss, etc, etc.

“I don’t know as AJ has got that same kind of internal confidence that just emanates from him like it does from Fury.

“And I think if, for example, AJ hits the canvas like Fury did, does he get back up with the same kind of confidence to be able to regroup? I’m not so sure.”

Martin Bakole

Bakole

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BakoleCredit: Getty

You will be hard-pressed to find boxers who are genuinely backing Ngannou to beat Joshua but one of them is Congolese heavyweight Martin Bakole.

Bakole has shared several rounds of sparring with Joshua over the years but he is backing Ngannou to knock the Brit out after watching the Fury fight.

“He [Fury] took Ngannou easy, not too serious. He thought he would stop him by round five but Ngannou took it serious and thought that if he stops Tyson Fury he will make a name for himself in boxing.

“To be honest, Joshua is going to be different [to Fury] because Joshua saw Ngannou was coming to box [versus Fury] as well, he will take it serious.

“Ngannou as well is coming into it, wanting to make a name for himself in boxing, everyone is surprised [at how good he looked] after the Tyson Fury fight.

“He is a good man, he has got a good heart and he’s got everything up there, if he lands on Joshua, I think that he will stop him because this time he is taking it seriously as well and he will be working hard on it [his boxing skills].”

Who is backing Joshua?

Derek Chisora

Chisora thinks AJ will KO Ngannou

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Chisora thinks AJ will KO NgannouCredit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

Derek Chisora is convinced that Joshua will knock out Ngannou in what will be his ‘hardest fight ever’.

Speaking on Fight Night live on talkSPORT, Chisora said: “This is AJ’s hardest fight of all his fights. For the simple reason that it’s the unknown. He [Ngannou] has only gone 10 rounds with Tyson Fury.

“There is so much pressure on AJ that he’s representing boxing, representing all of us right now. For himself, for his name, for his dignity, it comes with so much pressure.

“It’s the unknown and this will be his hardest fight ever.”

Then making a prediction, he continued: “It’s going to be a hard fight for him, but I can guarantee you this, [Joshua] is going to knock him out.”

Ricky Hatton

Hatton spoke with openness and bravery in a frank chat with Jim White

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Hatton spoke with openness and bravery in a frank chat with Jim WhiteCredit: Getty

Ricky Hatton believes Joshua has ‘enough firepower’ to shine against Ngannou.

“If you’re asking where my money would go, it would go on AJ because he’s an exceptional boxer, you don’t become an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion for nothing,” he said.

“He doesn’t have the lateral movement of Tyson Fury, so he’s going to be standing in front of Francis Ngannou, which worries me a little bit because if AJ does cop one, that could be that.

“But I’m going to go with AJ based on his confidence and his new team. I think he’ll have enough firepower to shine against Ngannou.”

Amir Khan

Khan has experience getting KO'd and he has warned Garcia to avoid Davis's power shots

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Khan has experience getting KO’d and he has warned Garcia to avoid Davis’s power shotsCredit: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

Amir Khan expects Joshua to learn from Fury’s mistakes and get the better of Ngannou.

“I don’t know if Tyson took his foot off the gas, not expecting what he came to do,” Khan told the Sun.

“But the fight with Joshua, Joshua’s gonna know now how hard he gave a fight to Fury.

“So I’m sure he’s going to be on his A-game. He’s not going to make the same mistakes and he’s going to train very hard for this fight.

“Because like I said, maybe Tyson overlooked him and thought it was going to be a walk in the park but really he surprised us all.

“So I think this is only going to make Joshua train even harder. But, I got Joshua winning.

“I think it could be a mid-round, mid-fight knockout maybe four, five, six rounds. Or, it could be a 12-round decision.”

Angel Fernandez

Fernandez believes Joshua can get the win

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Fernandez believes Joshua can get the winCredit: Angel Fernandez – Instagram

AJ’s former trainer Angel Fernandez believes he will come out on top against Ngannou this week to help rebuild his reputation.

Speaking to talkSPORT.com, Fernandez explained: “With fighters you have to start to come back into confidence and belief a bit more in yourself. You have to give him time and progression to get that confidence back.

“If we had two or three fights in between that we win, to get back to who he was before. Now hopefully Ben [Davison] brings that out of AJ.

“Any fight is dangerous, especially against Ngannou. Both are great fighters. I think the game plan for AJ is to sit behind the jab, footwork and use the distance.

“That doesn’t mean on the back foot, but he needs to instead get Ngannou to fight on the back foot so I believe he can get the win.”

Johnny Nelson

Nelson claimed that Fury is looking sluggish in sparring

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Nelson claimed that Fury is looking sluggish in sparringCredit: Merceica

Johnny Nelson is extremely confident that Joshua will do the business next week.

“I think he [Joshua] comes through it with flying colours,” Nelson told Sky Sports.

“I think Joshua wants to be world champion again, I think Joshua knows what responsibility he will have. He will know ‘I just have to get through this fight and get the win’ because of the big pot of gold at the end of it.

“Joshua knows he can punch. Joshua knows he has the knockout ability to get rid of him so I would not be surprised if Anthony Joshua thought ‘I am going to stay in the pocket and knock you out’.

“Common sense would be, if you use your boxing ability, it is day and night. But it is the devil in the detail and that is where the problem might lie.”

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