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Anthony Joshua defeats Francis Ngannou with STUNNING KO in 'Knockout Chaos' main event in Saudi Arabia – after 'AJ' sent the ex-UFC champion crashing to the canvas THREE times in two rounds

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Anthony Joshua is back big-time. Francis Ngannou was on his back three times. The Gypsy King’s time to settle his domestic differences with AJ has to come. 

Tyson Fury was on his feet applauding as his arch-rival sent a message blaring down the road towards the undisputed world heavyweight championship which made his own fraught victory over Ngannou here five months ago sound like a whisper.

Joshua is praying now that Fury takes all the alpha-belts in May by blowing away Oleksandr Usyk, the Ukrainian who ended his own reign as champion.

As dawn broke over the Saudi Arabian desert Joshua could scent himself joining the elite ranks of three-time world title winners.

That is no longer a mirage. This spectacular triumph inside two murderous rounds was as much over himself as over Ngannou, the UFC legend who has crossed over into boxing.

Anthony Joshua (R) produced a stunning KO victory over Francis Ngannou (L) in their highly-anticipated bout on Friday

Anthony Joshua (R) produced a stunning KO victory over Francis Ngannou (L) in their highly-anticipated bout on Friday

The British star sent Ngannou crashing to the canvas on three occasions, inside three rounds, during the heavyweight clash

The British star sent Ngannou crashing to the canvas on three occasions, inside three rounds, during the heavyweight clash

The former UFC champion was left stunned by Joshua's power and precision on the night

The former UFC champion was left stunned by Joshua’s power and precision on the night

The Cameroonian is reputed to be the biggest puncher in combat sports. That will have to be recalculated against the magnificent right hand blows which floor him thrice in two rounds.

Ngannou got up twice but miracles rarely come in threes. He will have to decide which code of fighting to follow hereon, while any talk of Joshua’s career coming to the end of his career has been silenced. 

‘It is what it is,’ said AJ when asked to assess this stunning achievement. ‘It is boxing.’

Modesty forbade him to elaborate but his promoter Eddie Hearn did it for him: ‘This is the best heavyweight in the world and I can’t wait to see him beat Fury.’

They love a late night in the Saudi Kingdom and Joshua gave them a sunrise to stay up for after the ringing of the first bell was delayed until 3.29 in the morning. Even for the travelling Brits, it was well worth staying up all night.

The transition of big time boxing across the globe from one desert, Nevada, to another, Arabia, is not all plain sailing.

Finance is not a problem. Multi-millions went into the fighters’ purses, this promotion and the express construction of the Kingdom Arena.

But work needs to be done to fully convert the good people of Riyad to the culture which made Las Vegas the capital of prize-fighting.

Joshua landed a huge right-hook that landed flush on the Cameroonian's chin and, in turn, won him the bout

Joshua landed a huge right-hook that landed flush on the Cameroonian’s chin and, in turn, won him the bout

Afterwards, Ngannou and Joshua embraced one another and held a brief conversation inside the boxing ring

Afterwards, Ngannou and Joshua embraced one another and held a brief conversation inside the boxing ring

Joshua then got on the microphone to discuss his future plans - including a potential fight with Tyson Fury

Joshua then got on the microphone to discuss his future plans – including a potential fight with Tyson Fury

This impressive stadium was nowhere near full for the return of Joshua and Ngannou.

Admittedly this event was not preceded by the razzamatazz of the dazzling song-and-light show starring some of the world’s leading pop stars which helped draw the crowds to Tyson Fury’s first venture here, which opened the Riyadh Season of cultural and sporting entertainment.

Fury himself, the prize-ring’s great entertainer, was in action only on a TV broadcast microphone this time not in the ring. But he received one of the most rousing cheers of the night when he took his seat in one of those amazing technicolour dream suits of his. 

As did Jose Mourinho when he pitched up to inflame speculation that he is about to join the camel train to one of Saudi’s big football clubs for a salary he is believed to be negotiating ever skyward from the opening offer of one hundred million dollars a year as soon as he was sacked as Roma’s manager.

A third Special One spell at Chelsea would appear to be out of the reckoning.

Joshua was later described as 'the best heavyweight in the world' by promoter Eddie Hearn following the victory

Joshua was later described as ‘the best heavyweight in the world’ by promoter Eddie Hearn following the victory

Those present began warming the fight atmosphere as they took exception to Liverpool’s Nick Ball being denied the WBC world featherweight champion when his challenge to Ray Vargas was called a draw despite him knocking down the Mexican twice.

They were roaring when Zillie Zhang, the Big Banger from China, dropped Joseph Parker twice. Then on their feet applauding as the clever and courageous Kiwi outboxed and bewildered the giant panda through the other ten round rounds.

Perhaps the Saudi sports-lovers are fast learners when it comes to the Noble Art.

They awaited further enlightenment from Joshua and Ngannou.