Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

Joshua vs Ngannou: Boxing thriller in Riyadh

Boxing Dins Davids Ozols 06.03.2024

In the realm of sports, there are rare moments that transcend boundaries and captivate the imagination of fans across the globe. One such moment is fast approaching as two heavyweight giants, Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou, prepare to collide in a historic boxing match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the early hours of March 9th by Baltics time.

The background

For Joshua, a former three-belt heavyweight champion, this bout represents a crucial opportunity to reclaim his status as one of the sport’s greatest. On the other hand, Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion, seeks to capitalize on his newfound success in the boxing ring and solidify his place among the heavyweight elite. With Joshua looking to extend his winning streak to four consecutive victories and Ngannou eager to secure his first win in the boxing ring, the stakes have never been higher.

The 34-year-old Joshua is a true boxing veteran with a total of 30 fights under his belt. Behind this impressive number hides 27 wins and only three defeats. The Brit’s first upset dates back to 2019 against Andy Ruiz Jr., which tarnished his then-perfect 22-0 fighting record. As a result, Joshua lost his WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titles, only to reclaim them in a rematch later that year. His other two defeats came against Oleksandr Usyk, first in September 2021, followed by the second one in August 2022. However, since then, he seems to be back on track, winning three in a row last year.

Source: Imago Images

Aged 37, Ngannou is about to head into his second professional boxing match. As we know, before that, he dedicated his life to mixed martial arts. In his 20 fights (14 with the UFC), the Cameroonian accumulated 17 wins and – similarly to Joshua – three losses. During his tenure with the UFC, he faced and dominated several well-renowned fighters, including Curtis Blaydes, Ciryl Gane, and Stipe Miocic. Who knows how long the list of his high-caliber “victims” would’ve been had he not been forced to part ways with the organization early last year?

And then followed Ngannou’s boxing debut. He took on the undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in a professional boxing match billed as “Battle of the Baddest” in October last year. The result was a little. Despite outscoring Fury in power punches (37 to 32) and even knocking his opponent down in the third round, the fight went all the way to the scorecards, in which the judges awarded Fury the victory in a controversial split decision (95–94, 96–93, 94–95). Logically, there was and still is a significant segment of people who are certain Ngannou got robbed.

Source: Imago Images

What are the stakes?

The journey to this moment has been filled with twists and turns for both fighters. Joshua, once hailed as a generational talent, has endured setbacks on his path to redemption. Despite tasting defeat against the likes of Andy Ruiz Jr. and Oleksandr Usyk, Joshua remains undeterred in his quest for glory. With a renewed sense of purpose, he enters the ring with the determination to silence his critics and reclaim his rightful place atop the heavyweight division.

In contrast, Ngannou’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of extraordinary. From humble beginnings in Cameroon to becoming a dominant force in the UFC, Ngannou’s journey is a testament to his resilience and unwavering determination. His decision to transition to boxing was met with skepticism, but his performance against Tyson Fury in October 2023 proved that he belongs among the elite. Funnily enough, after his fight with Fury, Ngannou was ranked #10 by the WBC.

It’s more than understandable that a loss in the upcoming duel would be significantly more painful for Joshua. Maybe even career-ruining. Sure, a 0-2 record wouldn’t be the dream start in boxing, but Ngannou has already proven himself in the Octagon. No one expects him to go and effortlessly beat the world’s greatest boxers who have years of experience. In the world of boxing, Ngannou can be considered a rookie.

What are the odds?

As the countdown to fight night begins, pundits and fans alike are eagerly anticipating the showdown between these two giants. While Joshua boasts a superior boxing pedigree and experience, Ngannou’s raw power and unorthodox style pose a unique challenge. The outcome of this bout is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain – it promises to be a spectacle for the ages.

Understandably, OlyBet sportsbook sees Joshua as a heavy favorite at the odds of 1.31, compared to 3.90 for Ngannou. However, the former UFC champ shouldn’t feel upset about the underdog’s role. He might even benefit from it. Silencing skeptics is something he thrives on.

In the end, it’s not just about the belts or the accolades – it’s about the sheer thrill of witnessing two warriors lay it all on the line in pursuit of greatness. Joshua vs Ngannou is more than just a boxing match – it’s a clash of titans that will leave an indelible mark on the sport for years to come. The clock is ticking, and the big fight is almost within reach of hand. It is expected to start shortly after 01:00 on Saturday (March 9th) by Baltics time. Don’t sleep on it!

Dins Davids Ozols

Dins is a self-raised copywriter whose burning desire for punctuality and correctness of texts has combined with a lifelong passion for sports. He's on a mission to provide OlyBet.TV visitors with content on current sports events. His favorite topics include major football leagues and competitions, NBA, and UFC.