Is Anthony Joshua’s Career Over If He Loses To Francis Ngannou?

By James Slater - 02/29/2024 - Comments

Is Anthony Joshua’s very career on the line in his upcoming, March 8 clash with Francis Ngannou? Maybe. A loss to Ngannou, currently just 0-1 as a pro boxer, would be catastrophic for the former two-time heavyweight champion. Of course, Joshua could carry on fighting and he would still earn big money. But would it be the same if AJ had a loss on his record that was put there by basically a novice boxer?

A KO loss would very possibly prove so traumatic to Joshua that the 34 year old multimillionaire would indeed walk away. But is there a very real danger of Joshua losing to Ngannou, or is this fight, a “gimmick fight” in the opinion of some, easy work for Joshua; AJ being a man who has so much more experience of the ring compared to the former UFC heavyweight champion? Maybe you are some place in-between; one day feeling the fight is indeed a risky one for AJ, the next feeling it’s a money grab for AJ.

Is Anthony Joshua's Career Over If He Loses To Francis Ngannou?

One of the big questions going into this fight is, how good is Ngannou? Sure, the 37 year old surprised us, shocked us even, in his debut, this when he shocked the hell out of Tyson Fury, with Ngannou dropping Fury and laying some real hurt on him during that torrid eighth round. But was Fury in shape? Was Fury ready for a real fight the way Joshua will be? Or did Ngannou face a lax, he-thought-it-would-be-easy version of Fury, a man who thought he was going to one big party in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he simply had to turn up on fight night to win?

Then there is the question of whether or not Ngannou can improve, if he HAS improved since the October fight. Ngannou we know trains hard, he is a physical beast of a man, and of course he can punch. But can he really box? Will Ngannou have anything like the same amount of success against Joshua as he had against a possibly out of shape and ill-prepared Fury? While in terms of chin, which man will be able to deal and cope with a solid shot better on March 8?

One man who thinks AJ will have “a relatively easy night” against Ngannou, is former champ turned pundit Barry Jones. Speaking on the Toe2Toe podcast, Jones said Joshua is all wrong for Ngannou.

“Joshua is a hard fight for Ngannou because he keeps his shape really well, he punches down the line and every punch is a bit more forceful,” Jones said. “There is more intent with every punch he throws, and I think he can get the stoppage. A one-fight novice still should not beat a former heavyweight champion of the world who is not out of his prime, I think it’s a relatively easy night for him.”

Jones is right – a one-fight novice SHOULDN’T beat a former heavyweight champion of the world. But it is possible that with Ngannou we, or his ring opponents, are dealing with a one-off, a very, very special fighting man. We just don’t know. Thanks to us not knowing if Fury was anywhere close to being on his best behaviour in the lead-up to his fight with Ngannou, we cannot gauge with any real accuracy at all how good Ngannou is at pro boxing.

If Joshua fights with real conviction and belief, and if he is unafraid to let his hands go (Joshua being capable of doing this in the fight a genuine question in the opinion of some fans and experts who fear we may see the ‘gun-shy’ version of AJ show up on March 8), he should win. But if Joshua has doubts, if he has fear, if he is intimidated by Ngannou and if he is forced into a shell as he feels Ngannou’s power and sheer physical strength, then we will have a truly fascinating fight to watch unfold. And in terms of facing a huge puncher, another question that can be asked is, when did AJ last share a ring with a huge banger? You could argue that this was way back in 2017, when Joshua fought Wladimir Klitschko.

Plenty of people are picking Ngannou to win, but more folks are going with the far more accomplished and proven boxer. Joshua, 27-3(24) is the betting favourite in the fight. A Joshua points win over ten rounds seems to be a pretty popular pick.

But if Ngannou can pull it off – and for what it’s worth, I’m picking Ngannou to get the stoppage win – what then for AJ? Jones says Joshua’s career will indeed be over if he loses to Ngannou.

“If he can’t [win], then it will be a nightmare and the end of his career if he gets beat by Ngannou,” he said.

Agree or disagree? And who are YOU picking in this one?

YouTube video