Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou: The early odds for the Saudi showdown

 | January 09 | 

3 mins read

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Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou made believers out of a lot of people with his boxing debut against Tyson Fury. ‘The Predator’ knocked the WBC heavyweight bossman down in the third round of their Riyadh encounter, before giving ‘The Gypsy King’ fits throughout the ten-rounder.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou Odds

  • Anthony Joshua to win @ 2/9
  • Francis Ngannou to win @ 3/1
  • Draw @ 20/1

Now Ngannou gets a chance to put his newfound skill-set to the test against another world class boxer. Former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will square off with the MMA star in Saudi Arabia on 9th March. Incredibly, Ngannou enters the fight as the 10th-ranked heavyweight with the WBC, despite never having won a pro boxing match. Sanctioning bodies, eh?

Ngannou is currently 3/1 with Betfred to spring the surprise and go one better than he did against Fury. ‘AJ’ is 2/9 to do what’s expected of him while a draw, something Ngannou almost secured against ‘The Gypsy King’, sits at 20/1.

These early odds are a good indication of where this fight sits two months out. Joshua is just coming off his best performance in years. The Olympic gold medalist walloped world-ranked Otto Wallin in five rounds last month. Wallin’s only previous defeat was in an absolute war with Fury. While the current WBC kingpin struggled with the Swede, Joshua made matters look easy.

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Oddsmakers only have 30 minutes of Ngannou in a professional boxing ring to go on. They have been far more realistic than the WBC in making Ngannou a 3/1 shot. It’s shorter than his Fury odds were, reflective of his high level of performance in that fight.

Can Ngannou replicate that against Joshua? It is unlikely. The Fury fight had three major factors that the Joshua bout does not. Firstly, Fury was extremely ill-prepared. His father John Fury told me in a chat for The Sportsman that his son “looked like he’d just come out of the larder.” It is unlikely that Joshua will make the same mistake, especially after seeing what such negligence almost cost Fury.

Secondly, Fury struggled to get up for Ngannou because he had been promised an Usyk bout. Going from an undisputed title fight to a non-title 10-rounder with a non-boxer is a mighty step down, no matter what the purse says. Thirdly, the secret is out with Ngannou. Joshua has the benefit of knowledge that Fury didn’t. The world knows that Ngannou can box to a decent enough level and that he can apply the power that made him a UFC champion even in bigger gloves.

The pick here is surely for Joshua to do what Fury couldn’t and enter a measured, fuss-free performance built on control and dominance. He has just done that to another heavyweight who gave Tyson trouble in Wallin. Ngannou might have captured the imagination but we are yet to see the substance behind the surprise. What is he like under pressure? How does he function against a more cautious opponent? ‘AJ’ has proven he is capable of being the latter. That safety-first proclivity, something Fury has never quite shared, should be enough to see Joshua through against Ngannou.

You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page

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