Where have we heard this one before?
Last weekend’s confirmation that Francis Ngannou’s second professional boxing bout is to come against another of the sport’s biggest names in Anthony Joshua has prompted some familiar rhetoric among the boxing community, the latest of which has come from the former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew.
“I’m going with AJ, and I’m expecting him to do it in a brutal manner too,” Bellew — who is close to Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn — said, according to givemesport. “Fury and Joshua are fighters with different approaches and if Joshua goes into this fully prepared and focused, then he’ll win easily. Ngannou proved a lot of people wrong against Fury, but this is a different fight, and I’m expecting Joshua to flatten him in about one or two rounds.”
Many of you will recall similar statements made ahead of Ngannou’s boxing debut, where he lost a razor-thin split decision to the unbeaten Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia in October — even knocking the world champion to the canvas with a concussive left-hook in the third.
Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, is generally regarded as the biggest puncher in MMA history and showed in that Fury bout that he has the ring IQ necessary to make the most of his natural abilities.
But should he get it done against another of this generation’s best heavyweights — or even put up a competitive showing — it will be difficult, or even impossible, to deny his standing as a legitimate commodity in two different codes of combat sports.