Anthony Joshua embarrassed Francis Ngannou, Tyson Fury

Anthony Joshua embarrassed Francis Ngannou, Tyson Fury


A critical look at the past week in boxing

BIGGEST WINNE AND LOSERAnthony Joshua and Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury must’ve have been embarrassed on Friday night.

Anthony Joshua did what his countryman should’ve done when Fury fought Francis Ngannou in October, which was to demonstrate that an MMA fighter without boxing experience has no business in the ring with a top heavyweight.

Fury survived a knockdown to eke out a pathetic split decision victory in Saudi Arabia. Joshua annihilated Ngannou in the same country, dropping the Cameroonian three times and stopping him in the second round to build on his momentum and restore some honor to the sport.

The difference between Fury and Joshua in their respective fights with Ngannou?

Not complicated: Fury wasn’t professional, Joshua was.

Fury wasn’t prepared – mentally or physically, it seemed — when he stepped into the ring to face Ngannou, who had some experience in the gym early in his combat sports career but was making his professional boxing debut.

The WBC titleholder obviously thought he could defeat Ngannou just by showing up, a notion shared by many. That’s not how it’s done, however. Not even against a rookie.

Fury rallied from a third-round knockdown to outpoint Ngannou, a decision that wasn’t controversial if you understand how scoring works. However, the competitive nature of the bout was mortifying for both Fury and boxing.

Joshua clearly prepared for his meeting with Ngannou as he would any big fight. When he stepped through the ropes, he was at his best. And the former two-time champion’s best was far too good for Ngannou.

Many of those who care about boxing probably had the same thought after they celebrated the slaughter: Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) should’ve done exactly the same thing against Ngannou.

The fact he didn’t, the fact he struggled merely to have his hand raised against a newbie is a blot on his resume. It also changed my perception of him. I had predicted that he would beat the crafty, but much smaller Oleksandr Usyk handily when they meet for the undisputed championship on May 18, also in Saudi Arabia

Now I’m not so sure. Now I see it as a 50-50 fight, which shouldn’t be the case given Fury’s ability and massive size advantage.

Of course, the blessing for Fury is that he has a golden opportunity to redeem himself immediately, as a victory over Usyk would do. We’ll see which Fury shows up: the wonderfully athletic, skillful behemoth of the past or the disappointment who fell flat against Ngannou.

Meanwhile, Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs) is on a tear. He’s now 4-0 since his back-to-back setbacks against Usyk in 2021 and 2022 — including consecutive knockouts of Robert Helenius, Otto Wallin and now Ngannou — and bursting with confidence.

I and many others thought Joshua was in the last throes of his elite career after the Usyk losses. Now I have had to rethink that notion, too. The way he has performed of late has me convinced that the 34-year-old once again has the tools to beat anyone in the game.



I don’t mean to be too hard on Ngannou. He deserves credit for his performance against Fury. He, unlike Fury, trained to be at his best and that paid off in the form of a strong performance. However, Joshua proved that a fighter with limited boxing skills and experience can only accomplish so much. I hope Ngannou doesn’t go away, however. I’d like to see how he does against second-tier heavyweights – if he’s willing to fight them — and whether he has another surprise in him. … Joseph Parker (35-3, 23 KOs) is another fighter who proved me wrong. I thought the Kiwi was finished after he had two tough fights against Derek Chisora in 2021 and was knocked out by Joe Joyce in September 2022. The 32-year-old former beltholder has won five consecutive fights since the setback, including decisions over Deontay Wilder in December and Zhilei Zhang on the Joshua-Ngannou undercard in his last two fights to reestablish himself as a genuine title contender. He nearly shutout Wilder and deserved better than a majority decision over Zhang, who was coming off back-to-back knockouts of Joyce. The fact Parker had to overcome two knockouts to beat his Chinese counterpart only added to the significance of the victory. Fans love a fighter who overcomes adversity to have his or her hand raised. Make no mistake: Parker is back. …

Can Zhang (26-2-1, 21 KOs) bounce back in his 40s? He established himself as a heavyweight to be reckoned with by stopping Joyce twice. However, his performance on Friday was a significant step backward. He didn’t show much against a good, experienced boxer aside from the two punches that put Parker down. I imagine he won’t walk away now, though. The knockouts against Joyce are still fresh in his mind. And he did lose a competitive decision to Parker. … I get why people were aghast over the announcement that Jake Paul will face 57-year-old Mike Tyson in what evidently will be an exhibition July 20 at AT&T Stadium near Dallas. It has freak show written all over it. At the same time, it makes perfect sense from a business standpoint. Paul and Tyson stand to make untold millions for dancing around the ring for a few rounds because many people worldwide will find value in the event. How many of us, if we had their abilities, wouldn’t do the same thing? Be honest.


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