Joshua vs Ngannou Predictions: ‘AJ’ vs ‘Predator’ will redress the balance

 | March 08 | 

4 mins read

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Anthony Joshua’s Saudi Arabian mission against Francis Ngannou on DAZN this Friday (March 8) is atypical of the fights I usually predict on these pages. Sometimes I’m picking between two fighters whose abilities are separated by a paper-thin margin of difference. Other times I am left to conjure a compelling bet from an apparent mismatch between a heavily-favoured top fighter and a keep-busy journeyman opponent. But ‘AJ’ is in for neither an evenly-matched test of his skills nor a walkover here. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Joshua vs Ngannou Odds

  • Joshua to win @ 2/7
  • Ngannou to win @ 11/4
  • Draw @ 33/1

By Betfred’s reckoning, Joshua has a 77. per cent chance of winning, converting his 2/7 odds for a victory. Perhaps a greater probability than most pay-per-view main events but not at the levels of a formality. Ngannou is an 11/4 underdog, but a live one. Boxing success is often predicated on the old “puncher’s chance”. Well the former UFC heavyweight champion is certainly a puncher, his power making that chance ever more vivid.

This is a fight of contradictions. Ngannou is ranked number 10 in the world by the WBC. He took WBC champion Tyson Fury to the absolute limit last October. But on the other hand he has only fought once as a professional boxer and he lost. Is the Cameroonian boxing’s best-kept secret or a man hopelessly out of his depth?

The 10 rounds Ngannou shared with Fury are a small sample size to judge from. Those rounds come with caveats too. Fury arrived in Riyadh in dreadful shape for the encounter. ‘The Gypsy King’ had clearly not taken the bout seriously and appeared to treat the cross-codes clash as a glorified exhibition. 

In the champion’s defence, until Ngannou’s heroics on the night, that is exactly how the fight was viewed. The idea of Fury facing Ngannou was treated more like a Jake Paul excursion than his previous bouts with the likes of Deontay Wilder or Wladimir Klitschko. This was a wanton display of largesse and nothing more. At least until the third round…

There was more to Ngannou’s efforts in Riyadh than the clubbing left hand he knocked Fury down with. But that punch is the enduring tableau of that evening. A stain on Fury’s career that he has yet to wipe clean. Even if he had risen and entered a career-best display, the knockdown would still ache. But the fact that ‘The Predator’ actually pressed home that advantage and came within a split decision of defeating ‘The Gypsy King’ is damning.

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Without that punch, this fight with Joshua likely never happens. Over the course of 30 minutes, Ngannou went from interloper to threat. The WBC’s decision to rank him, however hasty, legitimised him as an opponent for any ambitious heavyweight. Suddenly there was a tangible benefit to engaging the MMA star. Beat him and watch your star soar.

Joshua’s star already occupies a stratospheric position, but clobbering Ngannou certainly won’t hurt his standing. By rights, ‘AJ’ should do exactly that. Those suggesting he won’t are basing their assessment on factors beyond Ngannou’s abilities. The fragility Joshua has shown in the past. The losses to Usyk and Andy Ruiz. The tame performances against the likes of Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius. 

But those stumbles came against well-schooled boxers. Contenders. Champions. Ngannou is a novice in this world. He bewitched and battered Fury at times but that was one fight against one underprepared man. Joshua’s focus is likely to be far greater, especially having seen what Ngannou is capable of. With a fight against the Fury-Usyk winner on the horizon, there is little-to-no chance he risks history by taking ‘The Predator’ lightly. 

For this reason, I believe ‘AJ’ will secure the stoppage against Ngannou. His precision, boxing IQ and abundance of power will prove the undoing of the MMA star. Joshua is a far harder puncher than Fury and will turn up in shape and with great determination to prevail. I see the Watford man breaking Ngannou down over the second half of the fight, which is why I’m going for an ‘AJ’ win in rounds 6-10 at 11/4. Ngannou has done incredibly well to even be here. But the carriage turns back into a pumpkin in Riyadh. Normal service will resume and Ngannou’s run as a top heavyweight boxer will come to an abrupt end. 

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

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