Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou: AJ must 'treat him with the respect,' says new trainer Ben Davison

February 23, 2024

Francis Ngannou has never won a professional boxing match. But Anthony Joshua’s training team are treating him as a world-class opponent for their March 8 showdown, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Afterall, in his pro debut, Ngannou did manage to drop elite heavyweight Tyson Fury.

That alone was a major shock, let alone Ngannou managing to push Fury close in their 10-round non-title bout, only losing on a split decision.

Ngannou, an MMA star, demonstrated that the skills and physicality which saw him win the UFC heavyweight championship could translate into boxing.

If Ngannou has lost something of the element of surprise ahead the Joshua fight, Ben Davison, AJ's new trainer, refuses to take the mixed martial artist lightly as a boxer.

"Treat him with the respect," Davison told Sky Sports. "Let's not lose the sight of it. He had a split-decision loss to Tyson. Straightaway that puts him up among people that have really struggled with Tyson."

As well as his undoubted power, he has attributes that could make him dangerous, even to Joshua, who has twice before been a unified heavyweight world champion.

Davison pointed out: "He showed composure, he showed patience, which are all things which become a threat when you can punch like that.

"I think it's easier to deal with a puncher when they're a little bit reckless, a bit gung ho. They're the novicey side of his game that we thought we would see - a lack of patience, a lack of composure. But those are things that he's shown. So we're treating him like a world-class heavyweight."

Ngannou's limited experience in boxing also makes him hard to study. Davison is using what he can.

"You have got the MMA. A lot of his knockouts have come from him standing up and his punches etc. So there is a bit to look at in the MMA as well and obviously the 10-round fight with Tyson," Davison said.

"The 10-round fight against Tyson's a big asset to us, I feel."

However the trainer warned that there could be more to come from Ngannou.

"We don't know. There might be other areas of his game that he looks to bring as well," Davison said.

"But we are prepared and have to prepare ourselves for what we think he's capable of and what other areas of his game we think he might try to employ or tactics that they might try to employ against AJ. That's all we can do."

Watch Joshua vs Ngannou live on Sky Sports Box Office on March 8

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