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Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou: Fight preview, suggested bets and Knockout Chaos undercard tips

A crossover fantasy fight with undisputed implications, Anthony Joshua faces Francis Ngannou on Friday night but may have one eye on a future clash with Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk.

Following his demolition of Otto Wallin, Joshua is back this weekend as he faces the former UFC heavyweight champion in the main event of the ‘Knockout Chaos’ card in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

With new trainer Ben Davison in his corner, Joshua produced his best performers in years to make light work of a tough adversary in Wallin.

After Deontay Wilder’s shock defeat to Joseph Parker ended the Brit’s hopes of finally facing ‘The Bronze Bomber’, promoter Eddie Hearn and His Excellency Turki Alalshikh swiftly turned their attention to making the Ngannou fight.

This follows Ngannou’s remarkable performance in which he could (and perhaps should) have shocked the world by beating Fury in his boxing debut last October.

Ngannou knocked ‘The Gypsy King’ down in the early rounds and was unfortunate to come unstuck via the scorecards.

While Fury clearly took Ngannou lightly and would have won convincingly had he taken his opponent seriously, this should not take away from the performance of the 37-year-old, who executed a superb game plan to leave his unbeaten foe at serious risk of an embarrassing defeat.

 

 

 

One major advantage Joshua has heading into Friday night is that Ngannou no longer has the element of surprise up his sleeve and while he has no doubt trained tirelessly since his loss to Fury, he surely would not have been able to improve too much since his last bout, which took place just five months ago.

Just as Fury did, Joshua heads into this fight as the overwhelming favourite to come out victorious and common sense dictates that he should have too much for Ngannou.

But this is heavyweight boxing and Joshua will need to evade Ngannou’s frightening punch power if he is to come out unscathed from this crossover fight, which is certainly a huge banana skin for the former two-time world champion.

There is a lot of buzz around Joshua following his link-up with Davison as the early signs suggest he is back to his best. And if he gets past Ngannou as he’s expected to, a shot at undisputed awaits him as the winner of 

Friday’s fight is likely to face the winner of Fury vs Usyk for all the belts.

 

Joshua vs Ngannou suggested bets

Anthony Joshua to win on points

Francis Ngannou to win (Rounds 4-6)

 

Knockout Chaos undercard

In the chief support slot is a tasty heavyweight match-up between Zhilei Zhang and Joseph Parker for the interim WBO heavyweight title.

Each fighter will head into this fight full of confidence. Zhang is coming off back-to-back wins over Joe Joyce, while Parker pulled off one of the shocks of 2023 to dominate Wilder en route to a stunning points victory.

With Joshua and Ngannou battling for the next shot at the world titles, the belts are likely tied up for the remainder of this year, but the winner of Zhang and Parker will place themselves towards the front of the queue for a fight against the champion at some point next year.

Zhang heads into the fight as a slight favourite but with Parker in the form of his career (and with superb trainer Andy Lee in his corner), another upset could be on the cards, and he is priced at 10/3 to win on points.

The second title on the undercard sees WBC world featherweight champion Rey Vargas defend his belt against Liverpudlian heavy-puncher Nick Ball.

Fan favourite Ball is unbeaten in his 19 pro bouts, while the more experienced Vargas is coming off a loss at super featherweight against O’Shaquie Foster but heads into Friday night as the WBC titleholder at featherweight.

This is no doubt a step-up for Ball, but he has not put a foot wrong in his career so far and as the favourite against Vargas, I’m expecting a statement performance and knockout victory from the 27-year-old (15/2 to win between rounds 7-9), inside the distance, which would set up a potential unification with newly-crowned WBA champion Ray Ford on the upcoming Matchroom vs Queensberry card on June 1.

The third and final title bout on the card pits WBA super welterweight champion Israil Madrimov against Magomed Kurbanov.

All three title bouts are capable of stealing the show this weekend and Madrimov vs Kurbanov is no different, as this evenly matched contest could really go either way.

There were fears that this bout would be postponed after an anomaly was found in Madrimov’s medical records but it is back on following further investigation and the Uzbekistan fighter is the 2/7 favourite to retain his title.

 

Knockout Chaos suggested bets:

Anthony Joshua to win on points

Francis Ngannou to win (Rounds 4-6)

Joseph Parker to beat Zhilei Zhang on points

Nick Ball to beat Rey Vargas between rounds 7-9

Israil Madrimov to beat Magomed Kurbanov

 

* all text odds are correct at time of article publication
 

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