Day of Reckoning as Joshua Stakes Claim Against Ngannou

Tyson Fury is expecting rival Anthony Joshua to have any easier time of it against Francis Ngannou than he did.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou, 37, will be having just his second professional boxing bout against England’s Joshua, 34, following his 10-round split decision loss to Fury in their non-title bout last October.

Joshua and Ngannou will clash at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on tonight.

“I am expecting AJ to win, for sure. He’s a boxer, isn’t he? A former two-time world champion,” Fury said during an interview with IFL TV.

“I wouldn’t go on my fight at all. It’s a totally different fight, and styles make fights. I didn’t have a good performance, as we all know, it was a piece of s*** from me.

“I’m not complaining, things happen in life and you get on with them.”

Fury suggested that his poor performance flattered Ngannou, who he taught was a tough, but not particularly talented boxer after their back-and-forth bout last year.

Meanwhile, Ngannou put Tyson Fury in his place at Wednesday’s pre-fight press conference for his looming bout with Anthony Joshua.

After Ngannou and Fury got into a heated verbal exchange Tuesday night at Turki Al-Sheikh’s residence, the tension between the pair continued during the pre-fight press conference.

Fury was seated front row and was heckling while Ngannou answered questions.

That prompted the former UFC heavyweight champ to issue a fiery response.

Ngannou reminded Fury that he was the only one to score a knockdown in their October bout, which Fury won by controversial split decision.

Ngannou expects to run it back one day, and when he does, he doesn’t intend to leave anything to chance.

“I had the first one over him, and I still need to have the second one – it’s true,” Ngannou said, adding “You’re going to sleep in the (ring) again, and I’m going to wipe the ring with your ass again. You wiped the ring with your ass. There was blood in the ring, sticking to your pants.”

As the exchange continued, Ngannou reminded Fury that the only reason he had confidence was because any fights between them would be under boxing rules.

If it were to take place under almost any other combat rule set, Ngannou said it would get very ugly.

“I’ll tell you: Your only chance is in the boxing ring with the boxing rules,” Ngannou said, adding “When you step out of that ring, you better stay five meters away before you talk your sh*t, because if I lose it, you’re going to have a real bad time, my friend. So, respect the fact boxing is protecting us and the rule of boxing is protecting us, because without that, you are nothing in front of me. I’ll beat you every day – twice on Sunday.”

Yet Daniel Mark Hardy, English former mixed martial artist who fought in the welterweight division, has warned that the former world champion, Joshua, could ‘psychologically unravel’ under pressure on fight night.

In just the second fight of his professional boxing career, the former UFC champion takes on Joshua in Saudi Arabia having dragged Fury into deep waters on his debut six months ago.

A monstrous left hook put ‘The Gypsy King’ down in the third round, with Fury climbing back up to his feet to continue. Despite heavy pressure from the Cameroonian, a battered and bruised Fury sealed a narrow split decision win.

While Fury was able to regroup after being dropped, former UFC fighter and the PFL’s head of fighter operations Hardy is not convinced Joshua can do the same.

The Briton has been only been dropped by two of his opponents to date – once in his sublime victory over Wladimir Klitschko with Andy Ruiz Jr sending him down four times on a crazy night in New York five years ago.

While Joshua has shown his resolve since then, Hardy doubts he has the ‘mental fortitude’ required to deal with Ngannou’s destructive power and pressure.

“We know how dangerous Ngannou is with his hands and know how strong he is physically. That is going to be unnerving for Anthony Joshua early on in this fight,” Hardy told

“If AJ tries to tangle and lock up with him, Ngannou is going to feel bigger and stronger than anyone else he has ever done that with. If he gets hit, he is going to realise even with his guard up, he could take concussive punches that could put him on the canvas.

“I stand by this; I don’t think AJ gets back up off the canvas with the same kind of confidence we saw from Fury. I don’t know if AJ has the same mental fortitude to deal with this same kind of pressure.

“AJ is still in the process of rebuilding his own career. It is a massive, massive risk for him and I think that will dawn on him on fight day”, he added.

Joshua is on a run of three straight victories, putting back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk behind him with a win on Friday to leave him within touching distance of another world title shot.

The former Olympian was largely untroubled in each of those fights last year but Hardy warns Ngannou will be aiming to seek and destroy from the opening bell.

Should the former UFC star have success in those early stages, Hardy warned Joshua will be ‘eaten alive’.

“If I’m in AJs camp, I’m preparing him for an early storm,” he said, adding “But if he is not prepared to take those big punches, the whole thing psychologically could unravel very quickly. He is the only one who has got the pressure of the occasion on his shoulders. Coaches and promoters share it, but AJ is the one who falls off the precipice if he loses to Ngannou.

“He is the only one who can really be honest with himself and feel that pressure. I would be preparing for him to be able to regroup because he doesn’t want to be hitting the canvas and not getting up with confidence. Because in that situation, Ngannou eats him alive.”

Victory for Ngannou will present him with the chance to become a world champion in MMA and boxing with Saudi eager for Friday’s winner to meet Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk after their undisputed title fight in May.

But there is still unfinished business in the world of mixed martial arts. Ngannou left UFC while still in possession of the heavyweight title in January last year, joining the Professional Fighters League [PFL] six months later.

Once his business with Joshua is done, he is expected to make his debut for the promotion against Renan Ferreira, who walked through Ryan Bader in the main event of PFL vs Bellator in Saudi Arabia last month.