Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou highlights: AJ delivers huge KO win

Joshua left no doubt as he battered the former UFC heavyweight champ with ease route to the knockout

After shocking the world by knocking down Tyson Fury and losing a narrow split decision, Francis Ngannou looked to score his first professional boxing win when he took on Anthony Joshua on Friday in Saudi Arabia. Unlike the Fury fight, Ngannou found no success in the ring, suffering a knockout in the second round after a crushing right hand from the two-time former unified champ.

Ngannou came out light on his feet early, looking to throw left hooks and get inside Joshua’s jab. Looking comfortable in just his second trip to the boxing ring, Ngannou suddenly switched southpaw. Moments later, Joshua feinted with a jab and Ngannou lowered his right hand to parry the strike that did not come, leaving him open to a right hand that sat him on the canvas for the first knockdown of the fight.

Ngannou managed to beat the referee’s count and survive the opening round, but Joshua had laid the groundwork for what was to come. With Ngannou biting on nearly every Joshua feint, the end felt inevitable as the fighters walked to their corners.

In Round 2, Joshua again drove a right hand into Ngannou’s head, dropping him for the second time in the fight. While Ngannou beat the count once again, he was unsteady on his feet and Joshua immediately took advantage, charging forward and landing a bomb of a right hand that sent Ngannou crashing to the canvas unconscious.

The end of the fight came at the 2:38 mark of Round 2.

Ngannou left the UFC as the promotion’s heavyweight champion over a combination of dispute over pay and his desire to test his fortunes in the boxing ring. That decision proved a lucrative one as Ngannou made tens of millions of dollars against Fury and Joshua. After such a brutal knockout loss, Ngannou may go back to the MMA cage, where he is under contract with PFL.

To his credit, Joshua came to Ngannou’s corner once Ngannou was conscious and standing, imploring the former UFC champ to continue his boxing journey.

“It is what it is,” Joshua said during his post-fight interview. “He’s a great champion and this doesn’t take away anything from his capabilities. He can come again. I told him he shouldn’t leave boxing. He can do well. He’s two fights in and he’s fought the best. He can go a long way if he stays dedicated, but it’s up to him.”

Ngannou was not interviewed post fight, which has become a more common practice after fighters suffer such a devastating knockout, but he did post a statement on social media shortly after the fight. 

“Sorry guys I let you all down,” Ngannou said. “Today was a bad day in the office but tomorrow will be another day. Thank you all for the love.”

Joshua and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn both said that the plan was for Joshua to seek an opportunity to win world title gold for a third time in his career, this time against the winner of the upcoming bout between WBC champion Tyson Fury and IBF, WBO and WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk to crown an undisputed heavyweight champion. Hearn said Turki Alalshikh had promised them a shot at the winner.

Fury and Usyk do have a rematch clause, so a rematch is likely after the two meet in May. It has also been said that the IBF will strip the winner of their title if they go ahead with a rematch rather than the winner fulfilling their obligations to face mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic. This means there could be a long wait to see Joshua against the winner of Fury vs. Usyk, though it’s possible the IBF championship will be there to be won during that wait.

Elsewhere on the card, Joseph Parker continued his ascent back to heavyweight title contention as he scored a majority decision over Zhilei Zhang in the co-main event. The win secured Parker the WBO interim title and could get hi a shot at Fury or Usyk, though he is a training partner with the “Gypsy King.” Parker earned the nod despite suffering a pair of knockdowns in the fight as Zhang was simply not active enough to win rounds. Plus, Rey Vargas managed to hold on to his WBC featherweight title, but by the slimmest of margins against Nick Ball. The two fight to a split draw, meaning the champion could not lose his title.

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