2024-03-09T015352Z_1_LWD657108032024RP1_RTRWNEV_C_6571-BOXING-HEAVYWEIGHT-JOSHUA-NGANNOU-000005844-000105365

Joshua demolishes Ngannou with second-round knockout

Former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua floored Francis Ngannou three times in two rounds at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena on Saturday in a knockout win that put him right back in the reckoning for another title shot.

The big Briton sent the 37-year-old Cameroon-born former UFC heavyweight champion, a two-fight professional boxing novice, to the canvas in the opening round with a straight right to the chin.

Boxing – Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou – Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – March 9, 2024 Anthony Joshua in action against Francis Ngannou REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

 

The “Knockout Chaos” fight then lived up to its billing in spectacular fashion as Joshua sent him crashing again in the second, first with a right-left combination and then an explosive right after he had beaten the count.

The referee stepped in and stopped the fight, with Joshua declared the winner by knockout victory and Ngannou out cold and receiving treatment before getting back, stunned, to his feet.

Far more had been expected from Ngannou after he knocked down WBC champion Tyson Fury in his first bout in Riyadh in October and went on to lose on a split decision, but Joshua was merciless.

“It is what it is,” he told the crowd, teasing out the words.

Boxing – Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou – Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – March 9, 2024 Anthony Joshua in action against Francis Ngannou REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

 

Fury, who fights Ukraine’s WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in a rescheduled unification bout in Riyadh on May 18, was watching from ringside.

“I’m just here to fight. I’m going to go back to my cage, lock myself away, and then I’m going to be let out when it’s time to fight again,” said Joshua, hungry for a chance against the winner of the Usyk v Fury fight.

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn sent out his own call: “There’s a brilliant fighter down there in Tyson Fury. Please beat Oleksandr Usyk, because you will get the biggest fight of all time,” he said.

“That is one of the most destructive knockouts I’ve ever seen.”

Joshua said he had told Ngannou he was an inspiration and he could come again.

“I told him he shouldn’t leave boxing, he can do well,” he said. “Remember, he’s two fights in and he’s fought the best. He can go a long way if he stays dedicated.”

Boxing – Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou – Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – March 9, 2024 Anthony Joshua after knocking down Francis Ngannou REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

 

Fighting earlier on the undercard, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker beat Chinese heavyweight Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang to take the WBO interim title on a majority points decision despite suffering two knockdowns.

Parker, who beat American former WBC champion Deontay Wilder in Riyadh in December, picked himself up after a straight left in round three and came back from a left-right combination in the eighth.

The ringside judges scored the fight to Parker 113-113, 114-112 and 115-111.

“We are contracted to have a rematch, so we will do it again,” said Parker.

Britain’s Nick Ball and Mexico’s WBC featherweight champion Rey Vargas earlier fought a split-decision draw despite the challenger twice flooring the belt-holder.

Boxing – Anthony Joshua v Francis Ngannou – Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – March 9, 2024 Francis Ngannou receives medical attention after being knocked down by Anthony Joshua REUTERS/Andrew Couldridge

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