Home News Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou PREDICTIONS: Tyson Fury reveals who he wants...

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou PREDICTIONS: Tyson Fury reveals who he wants to win, Jake Paul thinks the 'old AJ' will be too much for the world's hardest puncher while UFC legend Jon Jones makes a surprise pick

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Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou will go toe-to-toe on Friday in a card-topping clash nicknamed ‘Knockout Chaos’ – which is exactly what many stars and supporters of the sport are predicting. 

Both the British former world champion and his opponent are riding high going into their meeting, with Joshua claiming a classy win against Otto Wallin in Riyadh in late December. 

Ngannou was last year’s surprise package in his first ever heavyweight fight when he stopped Tyson Fury from waltzing away with victory by dropping the Gypsy King, and forcing him all the way – only to lose via split decision. 

But the UFC crossover star’s statement of intent against Fury has helped bolster his image as a genuine prospect, and an opponent Joshua shouldn’t be taking for granted

That being said, what do the experts think? Here, Mail Sport breaks down the predictions from some of the biggest names in the sport ahead of Friday’s fight night in Saudi Arabia. 

Anthony Joshua (left) and Francis Ngannou (right) will face off in Saudi Arabia on Friday night

Anthony Joshua (left) and Francis Ngannou (right) will face off in Saudi Arabia on Friday night

The British fighter is looking for a statement win against his opponent to set up a meeting with Tyson Fury

The British fighter is looking for a statement win against his opponent to set up a meeting with Tyson Fury

Ngannou had an impressive showdown with Tyson Fury in October and could yet be a serious title contender

Ngannou had an impressive showdown with Tyson Fury in October and could yet be a serious title contender

Frank Warren

The Queensberry promoter hedged his bets in conversation with Mail Sport, but stressed that Ngannou could not be ruled out. 

‘I can see a case for either of them (winning),’ Warren told Mail Sport.

‘I just think whoever lands the first meaningful punch… (it’s) how they respond to it. If AJ gets caught, if he catches him and hurts him, I think he’ll fight on the back foot and I don’t think that’s a good thing to do with this guy.’ 

Warren added that he thinks it ‘will be a knockout’ – possibly for Ngannou. 

‘If he catches AJ will he go back and fight the way he did against Ruiz in the second fight off the back foot? And if he does that, that’s actually not going to be that good for him.

‘He’s got to come out and he’s got to impose himself on this big man.’

Verdict: Too close to call 

Amir Khan

Speaking to the Sun, the Olympic silver medallist stood firmly in the AJ camp. 

‘If he gets the knock out or outboxes Ngannou and makes it look so easy, I think it will be a big statement in the world of boxing, especially the heavyweight division,’ Khan said. 

‘There’s still that talk that the Joshua and Fury fight should still happen so this is a good chance for Joshua to show how good he is.

‘Obviously, Ngannou surprised us all because that massive fight he had with Tyson Fury and how close the fight was, it could have gone either way. 

‘But the fight with Joshua, Joshua’s gonna know now how hard he gave a fight to Fury. So I’m sure he’s going to be on his A-game. He’s not going to make the same mistakes and he’s going to train very hard for this fight.

For Joshua’s win, Khan predicted: ‘I think it could be a mid-round, mid-fight knockout maybe four, five, six rounds. Or, it could be a 12-round decision.’

Verdict: Joshua 

Tyson Fury 

The Gypsy King has cut a mischievous presence in Saudi Arabia ahead of taking a seat ringside, but he was unwilling to fall on either side of the debate when asked for his thoughts on which man was going to come out on top. 

‘They are both two big strong guys and that’s why it is called knockout chaos,’ Fury said. ‘Anyone can win it. 

They are both big punchers who are not very hard to hit, so they can both land and do damage. I would like to back the former heavyweight world champion (Joshua) but then again who the f*** am I to say anything? 

‘If Francis wins then it sets up a massive rematch between us, but if AJ wins then it sets up a big British fight.’

Verdict: Too close to call 

The Cameroonian dropped Fury - but the Gypsy King recovered to win via split decision

The Cameroonian dropped Fury – but the Gypsy King recovered to win via split decision

The fighters - plus Fury and Cristiano Ronaldo (centre left) gathered at the home of Turki Alalshikh (centre) on Tuesday night

The fighters – plus Fury and Cristiano Ronaldo (centre left) gathered at the home of Turki Alalshikh (centre) on Tuesday night

The winner of Joshua-Ngannou will be clear to set up a contest with Fury after his May fight against Oleksandr Usyk

The winner of Joshua-Ngannou will be clear to set up a contest with Fury after his May fight against Oleksandr Usyk

Jake Paul

Impressed by Joshua’s strong showing against Otto Wallin less than four months ago, the YouTuber-turned-boxer had little doubt in his ability to get one over on the relative novice. 

AJ V NGANNOU ODDS

To win:

Joshua 1/4

Ngannou 11/4

Draw 25/1

Odds courtesy of Paddy Power 

‘It’ll be interesting but I think it will be hard for Francis to beat a Joshua that has looked like his old self, whereas I think Ngannou had an old, lacklustre, not focused Fury,’ Paul said, as per talkSPORT.

‘I want Francis to win, but I think it’s going to be tough for him.’

Verdict: Joshua 

Eddie Hearn

Firmly advocating for his fighter in the ring, Hearn has been bombastic about the 34-year-old’s chances of overturning the former UFC star, but with no shortage of respect for Ngannou’s staying potential. 

‘We let class rise and the cream come to the top,’ Hearn told Telegraph Sport. ‘We school him, we break him down and we knock him out, and it’s not going to be easy. 

‘I saw Tyson Fury say he landed some good shots on Ngannou and he didn’t look overly fazed. It could come down to how Francis Ngannou stands up to the power of AJ.’ 

Verdict: Joshua 

Eddie Hearn (right) has full faith in his talent to get the job done against the UFC champion

Eddie Hearn (right) has full faith in his talent to get the job done against the UFC champion

Former Joshua opponent Joseph Parker thinks that the contest is just a hair too close to call

Former Joshua opponent Joseph Parker thinks that the contest is just a hair too close to call

Joseph Parker

Parker has a good relationship with his 2018 opponent, but he found it difficult to choose between the two colossi heading into the headline bout. 

‘No idea,’ the New Zealand fighter, who will also step into the ring on Friday night, said. 

‘You’d think Joshua, but Ngannou is a beast too, he’s been punched kicked elbowed and he’s not been knocked out or down. 

‘It’s going to be interesting to see if Joshua can hurt him. But it’s a great fight. Hard to pick a winner.

Verdict: Too close to call 

Zhilei Zhang

Parker’s opponent in Saudi Arabia, Zhang, was much more clear-cut with his allegiances. 

‘It’s Joshua’s fight to lose,’ the Chinese fighter stated. ‘The key will be his defence in this fight, but Joshua has enough experience to outbox Ngannou. 

‘It will be a good fight. They are both strong.’

Verdict: Joshua 

Parker (right) will meet Zhilei Zhang earlier on the night in another anticipated heavyweight tie

Parker (right) will meet Zhilei Zhang earlier on the night in another anticipated heavyweight tie

Jon Jones is keen to back his UFC stablemate Ngannou - but whether he thinks he can win the contest is a different matter

Jon Jones is keen to back his UFC stablemate Ngannou – but whether he thinks he can win the contest is a different matter

Jon Jones

Nailing his colours to the wall sat just metres away from Ngannou himself, the UFC icon was incisive talking to DAZN

‘I’m rooting for Francis to win, only because of his story, how far he’s come in life, and him being a fellow mixed martial artist,’ Jones said. ‘I mean how can you not root for Francis? Francis is a wonderful, stand-up person. 

‘But Anthony Joshua has been doing this since he was a young boy, and I’m the type of guy who just gives respect where it’s due. 

‘If I personally had to put my own money on it, not that I gamble, I would put it on Anthony Joshua, but I am rooting for Francis!’

Verdict: Joshua 

Carlos Takam

Takam faced off Joshua in the ring in 2017, and came off the worse, but he tipped his compatriot Ngannou to exact revenge on the Briton years later. 

‘AJ’s chin is a big danger for him,’ the Cameroonian said to Lucky Block, via Boxing Social. ‘If Francis touches his chin, AJ is going to sleep for two days. AJ is definitely going to sleep for two days because of Francis’s power. His power comes from our country, our village, our ancestors.

‘It’s Bamileke power and you cannot play with that power. In the stories the Bamileke people were fighters and warriors and Francis has that warrior heritage. I’m sure 100 percent AJ will sleep for two days if Francis touches him.

‘Everyday I picture the fight between AJ and Francis and in my mind I see AJ knocked out. Francis is going to win that fight, but it’s not going to be easy. The strong guy is Francis, the smart guy is Francis, the only chance AJ has got is if he fights like Muhammed Ali. Keep the distance from Francis, fight AJ like Ali fought George Foreman. He needs to move like Ali.

‘Against AJ you’re going to see a different Francis, a new boxer. Francis is going to shock the world. Francis learned a lot in the Tyson Fury fight. If he catches AJ like he caught Tyson, Francis will jump on AJ and finish the fight this time.’ 

Verdict: Ngannou

Carlos Takam fought Joshua in 2017 at the height of his powers but still thinks Ngannou has a shout in Saudi

Carlos Takam fought Joshua in 2017 at the height of his powers but still thinks Ngannou has a shout in Saudi

Former fighter Tony Bellew however is less sure, and comes out strongly in favour of Joshua

Former fighter Tony Bellew however is less sure, and comes out strongly in favour of Joshua

Tony Bellew

‘Joshua can hurt Ngannou and I think if he can do it early then the fight will immediately become his,’ Bellew noted in his column for DAZN ahead of the showpiece clash. 

‘Joshua is a ruthless finisher once he gets a fighter in trouble and this fight can go quick if AJ can make a dent in Ngannou in the opening stages.

‘The more likely outcome is a middle rounds stoppage for the guy with more boxing experience. Joshua will start quick to get in control of the fight and that approach will give Ngannou plenty to think about. I see AJ picking up rounds before he slows Ngannou down and wastes no time finishing the job when the opportunity comes up.

‘If the fight plays out the way I think it will then it’ll be all eyes on Fury against Oleksandr Usyk in May as Joshua will want the winner. 

‘He can only get that fight by looking unstoppable against Ngannou and that’s what I’m expecting when the first bell goes on Friday night. Joshua to win by stoppage and to look good doing so.

Verdict: Joshua 

Martin Bakole

Out-and-out supporters of Ngannou may be thin on the ground, but like Takam, WBA World No 1-ranked heavyweight Bakole is passionately behind the crossover star.  

‘(Fury) took Ngannou easy, not too serious. He thought he would stop him by round five but Ngannou took it serious and thought that if he stops Tyson Fury he will make a name for himself in boxing.

‘To be honest, Joshua is going to be different (to Fury) because Joshua saw Ngannou was coming to box (versus Fury) as well, he will take it serious.

‘Ngannou as well is coming into it, wanting to make a name for himself in boxing, everyone is surprised (at how good he looked) after the Tyson Fury fight.

‘He is a good man, he has got a good heart and he’s got everything up there, if he lands on Joshua, I think that he will stop him because this time he is taking it seriously as well, and he will be working hard on it (his boxing skills).’

Verdict: Nganno

WBA World No 1 Martin Bakole is another behind the underdog Ngannou, and thinks the latter can land on the former decisively

WBA World No 1 Martin Bakole is another behind the underdog Ngannou, and thinks the latter can land on the former decisively

British heavyweight Joe Joyce offered two options for a suitable ending to Friday night's affair

British heavyweight Joe Joyce offered two options for a suitable ending to Friday night’s affair

Joe Joyce

British heavyweight Joyce went against the grain and picked both men to swipe the win, under different circumstances. 

‘Joshua can hit hard but if he fights fire with fire and he could get caught in the flames it could be over,’ Joyce said to OLBG, via DAZN. ‘He needs to be careful and get his shots off too. Francis can test AJ’s chin. AJ’s shown he hasn’t got the best chin, he’s shown he’s a bit of a glass cannon. 

‘He has explosive power but also he’s quite fragile. But how can I talk? I’ve just been knocked out, so I can’t talk.

‘But look at what Ngannou did against Fury, he knocked him down and arguably won the fight, and he could do the same to Joshua. He needs to because Ngannou is not going to get the decision.’

‘If Francis lands a big bomb on Joshua’s chin, Joshua’s going down. Equally, Joshua’s got power and if he can put them punches together and use his experience, probably keep it a lot more long range, I can see why some are making him the favorite.

‘If the odds are good for a Francis knockout, I’m putting my money on that. It’s a 50-50 fight. I’ll say Joshua on points or Ngannou for the upset by KO.’

Verdict: Too close to call 

Derek Chisora

The fellow heavyweight dubbed the clash ‘AJ’s hardest fight of all his fights’ – but still backed his man to swipe victory in Riyadh. 

‘It’s the unknown. (Ngannou) has only got 10 rounds with Tyson Fury, the rest is in MMA. It was just rough fighting, uppercuts and all that craziness,’ Chisora said to talkSPORT

‘On top of that, there’s so much pressure on AJ because he’s representing boxing, he’s representing all of us right now. For himself, for his name, and his dignity.

‘It comes with so much pressure when you’re fighting somebody you don’t know, who is not a great fighter. Remember, he’s only got 10 rounds with Tyson Fury and in one of the rounds he dropped Tyson Fury.’

But, Chisora added, despite his tough opponent, he could ‘guarantee’ that Joshua ‘is going to knock (Ngannou) out.’ 

Verdict: Joshua 

Derek Chisora thinks that Friday's meeting could by 'AJ's hardest fight out of all his fights'

Derek Chisora thinks that Friday’s meeting could by ‘AJ’s hardest fight out of all his fights’

Ricky Hatton backs the 34-year-old's renewed confidence to prove the difference in Riyadh

Ricky Hatton backs the 34-year-old’s renewed confidence to prove the difference in Riyadh

Ricky Hatton

Former lightweight and welterweight world champion Hatton is another staunch supporter of Joshua, tipping the Watford-born star to shine against the Cameroonian. 

‘If you’re asking where my money would go, it would go on AJ because he’s an exceptional boxer, you don’t become an Olympic gold medalist and a two-time world champion for nothing,’ Hatton said. 

‘He doesn’t have the lateral movement of Tyson Fury, so he’s going to be standing in front of Francis Ngannou, which worries me a little bit because if AJ does cop one, that could be that.

‘But I’m going to go with AJ based on his confidence and his new team. I think he’ll have enough firepower to shine against Ngannou.’

Verdict: Joshua