• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Boxing legend, Nelson cautions Anthony Joshua ahead of Ngannou fight


Johnny Nelson, a former world cruiserweight champion, has cautioned Anthony Joshua as he prepares for his fight against Francis Ngannou on March 8 in Saudi Arabia.

The Nigerian-born British former heavyweight champion won against Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin and will be up against former UFC champion Ngannou has had just one fight as a professional boxer, when he dropped Tyson Fury but lost on points in October 2023.

“Where Ngannou is coming from [MMA], he’s used to getting up close and personal,” said Nelson of next month’s contest.

“Fighting on the inside, his best work is on the inside, where he’s up close to somebody; making them feel uncomfortable; tying them up; wearing them down and getting the shots in up close.

“If you’re boxing, you’ve got to box long; you’ve got to use the jab; use the hook; set him [Ngannou] up with the shots. His job is to try and find a way, and once he’s close, that’s his safe spot – that’s his world.

Nelson, who in retirement has worked as a pundit for Sky Sports, had 59 fights in a nearly 20-year career and has covered many of Joshua’s fights as a broadcaster.

“Anthony Joshua knows he can punch, he knows he’s got the knockout ability to get rid of a man, so I would not be surprised at all if Anthony Joshua thinks, ‘I’m going to stay in the pocket and knock you out,’” added Nelson.

“Common sense would be, if you use your boxing ability, you box him to the best of your ability; it’s day and night; it’s a shutout; he’s never going to outbox you.

“What happens is when you want to get involved in a fight, you think, ‘I want to be here; I want to do a better job than Tyson Fury did’, and that’s where the problem might lie. Anthony Joshua needs to think ‘I need to get through this fight; get through it well; get through it safe; and then look on for bigger fights in the future.’”

Nelson believes that Ngannou’s performance against Fury last year has changed the perception of what Joshua-Ngannou is as a sporting contest, and it is one Nelson admits he is looking forward to.

“Ngannou has made everybody sit up and pay attention, and respect him for his performance against Tyson Fury,” Nelson told Sky Sports. “Anthony Joshua has the gift of hindsight in regards to this so that art of surprise that he [Ngannou] did [have] with us all, as well as Tyson Fury – now we know what he’s all about.

“Ngannou is probably the biggest fighter that Anthony Joshua has boxed.

“He’s patient, confident and older than Joshua, but Joshua has all of the boxing ability in the world, he has been in boxing a lot longer than Ngannou, so as long as he stays smart, and patient, keeps on the ball and doesn’t get involved in a tear-up, he should get the job done.”