Anthony Joshua has vowed not to make the same mistake as Tyson Fury when he takes on Francis Ngannou at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou 0-1 made his boxing debut against WBC heavyweight champion Fury 34-0-1 (24) in a 10-round non-title bout in Saudi Arabia inn October. The 37-year-old Cameroon native surprised fans, pundits and Fury himself with his boxing ability, knocking down the 35-year-old Brit with a left hook in the third round before losing a hotly contested split decision.
Two-time WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight champion Joshua 27-3 (24) says he will not be taking Ngannou lightly.
“If Tyson underestimated Ngannou, I sure won’t. Francis has lost the element of surprise with me,” said Joshua, who is coming off a dominant fifth-round knockout of Swedish southpaw and fellow contender Otto Wallin 26-2 (14) last month.
“We knew Francis had a reputation as the biggest puncher in the world but the surprise was how well he boxed.
“He was exceptional on the inside and made life very complicated for Tyson. So much so that I do belong to the opinion that he beat Fury.
“The way I see it, knock downs and the aggression win and it was Francis who delivered on those scores.”
Ngannou still believes he deserved the nod in the Fury fight but he is putting that bout behind him as he focuses in on Joshua.
“I’m going to come as an underdog to win the fight. I will get this done,” Ngannou said.
“I’m just a beginner. I will come out better and that’s how I see things. I prepared for a hard fight. The Fury fight is in the past, and I will take this more serious than before because there’s more on the line, the undisputed [heavyweight title in the future].
“I will do something nobody has done before and I have the tools to do that. It will not be an easy fight, but a possible one [to win].”
Joshua employed the services of Fury’s ex-trainer Ben Davison for the Wallin fight in what was seen as a temporary measure, but the pair gelled so well that they will continue working with each other going forward.
“Ben has played a big part in reminding me that my body and my mentality are made for me to go back to seeking knockouts,” Joshua said.
“I’m not going to waste any more time messing about with boxing on the back foot. Nor am I going to wait ten rounds to land the knockout.
“Yes, as people are saying, I do think you’re seeing me back to the old AJ.”
Ngannou has been studying Joshua and putting together a plan to defeat him.
“These are notes I’ve already made about him,” he said. “His style, where he’s dangerous, where he might get caught. By fight night I’ll go into the ring knowing everything about him.
“All I need to know about getting another fucking knock out.”