Boxing, Featured

Anthony Joshua knocks out Francis Ngannou with a devastating knockout blow

With a devastating second-round finish, Anthony Joshua stopped Francis Ngannou to end any chance of a stunning upset and moved closer to becoming a three-time world champion on Friday.

In the first round, Joshua took down a stunned Ngannou with a strong right hand. In the second, he knocked down the former UFC heavyweight champion twice, leaving Ngannou unconscious.

Following statement stoppages over Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin, it came as the most devastating knockout of Joshua’s career to rekindle his quest for a world title possibility.

The potential reward had been heavily discussed during the build-up in Saudi Arabia; a win would now be anticipated to open up a crack at the victor of Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight title.

“When I saw the fight with Fury, I thought damn, this guy could fight, I wanted a piece of that,” said Joshua post-fight.

“He’s an inspiration, a great champion, and this shouldn’t take away from his capabilities. He can come again. I told him he shouldn’t leave boxing. He’s two fights in, and he’s fought the best.

“He can go a long way if he stays dedicated.”

Amidst all the pomp and circumstance this week, Joshua remained laser-focused, and he used that same mentality to execute a knockout masterclass that gave Ngannou a brutal introduction to the real heavyweight boxing world.

Arriving on the heels of an incredible October debut performance against Fury, Ngannou earned another lucrative day in the ring with his stunning third-round knockdown loss to the WBC champion. Joshua was tired of more drama as 4 a.m. Saudi Arabian time drew near.

In the opening exchanges, the former unified world champion showed off his faster pace by setting the tone by dropping Ngannou to the canvas with a hard right hand and establishing his dominance with feints that the MMA convert was unable to decipher.

In the second round, Joshua punished Ngannou’s southpaw stance by dropping him again with a powerful right fist. A few seconds later, he sealed the deal with another shuddering right, leaving his opponent unconscious and in need of medical attention on the canvas.

“Francis Ngannou beat the WBC heavyweight champion of the world – I should be WBC heavyweight champion of the world,” joked Joshua. “He’s a dreamer, a risk-taker, that story of his should not be clouded by tonight.”

With the victory, Joshua improves his record to 28-3 and makes another declaration of purpose in front of Fury, who was watching from the front row at ringside after the Gipsy King’s laborious split-decision victory over Ngannou at the end of the previous year.

Joshua did not waste any time in heading straight for the winner of Fury and Usyk’s May 18 match. He also acknowledged the importance of his partnership with trainer Ben Davison, whose arrival has coincided with a return of the Olympian’s fierce knockout instincts that drove his early career success.

Joshua would not have been in danger of doing the same if Fury had accepted the Ngannou challenge lightly because he showed the boxing community the respect that the 37-year-old had earned in his debut.

It turned out to be the ideal message on yet another momentous night for Joshua, who two years after much had been questioned after consecutive defeats by Usyk blew the door off further thrilling opportunities. With his resentful fists and unwavering belief that he can still reach the height of his discipline, this was Joshua at his most dangerous. Few people would dispute it in that attitude.

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