Joe Joyce opens up on Francis Ngannou sparring and sends warning to Anthony Joshua

Joyce has first=hand experienced of how hard Ngannou hits (Picture: JoeJoyce/Getty)

Before Francis Ngannou stepped into the world of boxing, Joe Joyce felt the UFC star’s power in a famous sparring session. From then, he knew it could be a problem.

Ngannou fights in just his second professional boxing match on Friday against two-time unified world champion Joshua, having given Tyson Fury the biggest scare of his career to date last year.

During a period when he was on a run of four straight knockouts in the Octagon, Ngannou joined Joyce to share some very intense rounds of sparring while the Briton was preparing for his showdown with Daniel Dubois in 2020.

The Putney heavyweight, who has regularly based in training camps out in Las Vegas, went toe-to-toe with Ngannou at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Sin City.

Ngannou has long been regarded as one of the biggest hitters in combat sport. Joyce meanwhile has a reputation for possessing one of the toughest chins in boxing, taking some ferocious shots without even blinking until Zhilei Zhang finally found a way through last year.

Having witnessed his improvements, Joyce regards Ngannou as a ‘credible threat’ to everyone in the heavyweight division and warns his ‘incredible’ power could be Joshua’s undoing on Friday night in Saudi Arabia.

‘He is a very credible threat,’ Joyce told Metro.co.uk. ‘He hits very hard and he can mix it with the best. I did that work with him at the UFC Institute in our first training camp for the Dubois fight.

Tyson Fury floored by Francis Ngannou

Fury was floored by Ngannou’s power six months ago (Picture: Getty)

‘I did four rounds with him. He hadn’t done as much boxing training at that stage as he probably did before the Fury fight. But even then, he was very decent.

‘His power shots are incredible, you would want to stay out of the way of them.’

Joshua vs Ngannou shifted into focus following Deontay Wilder’s shock defeat to Joseph Parker in December.

A deal had been agreed for Joshua and Wilder to finally meet in the ring with an announcement scheduled to come that night before Parker ripped up those plans with a sensational performance against ‘The Bronze Bomber’.

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou fight on Friday night

Joshua and Ngannou collide on Friday night (Picture: Getty)

It has left Wilder’s future uncertain and while the appetite for that fight disappeared following that defeat at the end of 2023, Joshua last week suggested it could still be salvaged.

And despite recent setbacks, Joyce believes that fight will still be made.

‘I have a lot of respect for Wilder and the work he has done with Malik Scott. It must have been ring rust [against Parker]. But there is more for him out there,’ said Joyce, who makes his own return to the ring against Kash Ali next weekend.

‘If he had won he’d be fighting Joshua. But he is always dangerous and he of course brings entertainment. I don’t think we have heard the last of the Anthony Joshua fight.

It’s a similar position to myself, if he comes back and knocks someone out spectacularly, he’s right back in there against Joshua.

‘People always want to watch these big men punch and crumble the other one. It makes the division so great. It is a unique time in heavyweight division. There are so many good fights out there and that is still one of them.’


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