Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou: Back AJ for a KO win at 7/2

Boxer Anthony Joshua
Anthony Joshua is favourite to score a showreel knockout win on Friday

Anthony Joshua faces Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia and Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse expects the Brit to do a better job than Tyson Fury did against the MMA star...

  • Joshua has 24 knockout wins on his record

  • Ngannou famously decked Tyson Fury on debut

  • Joshua has lost three of his last eight fights

  • Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou
    Friday, 23:00
    Live on Sky Box Office

    Anthony Joshua returns to the ring on Friday evening when facing Francis Ngannou in a 10-round non-title fight at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    It may not be the fight that fans wanted for AJ, but it's a chance to score an impressive knockout win and nudge him into contention for a crack at the winner of Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk, who meet at the same venue in May.

    AJ is the former heavyweight champion who is desperate to regain his belts for the third time. Ngannou is a one-time UFC heavyweight champion who decked Fury when making his professional boxing debut late last year. Ngannou is a dangerous opponent, but does he have what it takes to inflict a fourth career defeat on his famous opponent?

    AJ is in a hurry

    Joshua arrives in Saudi Arabia for fight number 31 of his career with a record detailing 27 wins against three defeats, with 24 knockout victories and one loss inside the distance. The spare on his card was inflicted by American Andy Ruiz Jnr who KO'd the Englishman inside seven rounds back in 2019.

    Since then, Joshua has suffered mixed results, losing twice to Usyk while beating Ruiz, Kubrat Pulev, Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius, and Otto Wallin.

    Anthony has enjoyed a three-fight winning streak ahead of this contest. He beat Franklin on points at the O2 Arena in London before stopping Helenius in seven rounds at the same venue and dispatching Wallin before the end of round five in Riyadh last time out.

    Joshua has spoken at length about his desire to win back the world title belts by beating the winner of Fury vs. Usyk but knows he must continue to fight regularly and collect impressive wins. The bout against Ngannou gives him an opportunity to do both.

    Joshua v Ngannou fight odds

    Fancy the British puncher to score an emphatic win in Saudi Arabia? You can back Joshua in the fight-winner market at 1/51.20.

    How will his performance compare to that of Fury, who edged Ngannou on points?

    You can back AJ for the KO/TKO at 1/21.50 or try your luck on a points verdict at 7/24.50, available on the Betfair Sportsbook.

    Ngannou has nothing to lose

    Ngannou may be one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts after dominating the heavyweight scene in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) promotion. But he remains a one-fight novice in professional boxing.

    Few gave the African a chance against Fury last time, with critics calling it a mismatch, but Francis has carved a career out from being the underdog. He loves heading into a fight the experts say he can't win.

    Francis lost on points to Fury in October, but it was a highly contentious decision. Ngannou shocked followers of combat sports when sending Fury to the canvas in round three with a beautifully delivered left hook. Tyson beat the count, rose to his feet, and went on to do enough to impress the judges, but only just.

    One scorecard gave the fight to Ngannou 95-94, with the other two opting for Fury at 95-94 and 96-93.

    He may have lost to Fury, but Ngannou won millions of new fans and the respect of boxing lovers when going toe-to-toe with the WBC champion and pushing him to breaking point. Will he go one better against Joshua on Friday?

    You can back Ngannou for the win at 10/34.33 or aim higher in the method of victory market. A KO/TKO will earn you a shot at 7/24.50 with the points win 18/119.00.

    Keep it simple

    We'll learn a lot about where Joshua is in his career after this fight. Fury was far from convincing when beating Ngannou, but that had the feel of an exhibition bout and carried a friendly atmosphere until the African landed that big hook.

    It's not a joke for AJ, who travels to Saudi Arabia knowing his career and future is on the line. Lose on Friday, and the Londoner will be staring at retirement with his career and reputation in tatters.

    I'm backing Joshua to remain professional, put on a show, and beat Ngannou in style. With Fury, we were trying to second-guess what kind of shape he'd be in and if the fight would hold his interest. But this is a must-win for AJ.

    Back him to keep things tight in the opening rounds before making a statement with a huge knockout win.

    Back Joshua in rounds 6-10 @ 7/24.50

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