Joshua Pulverizes Ngannou and Parker Out-Hustles Zhang in Saudi Arabia


By David A. Avila

Heavyweight explosiveness was on display as England’s Anthony Joshua delivered an emphatic knockout win over MMA star Francis Ngannou in the desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Friday.

It needed less than two rounds to determine the superior fighter.

Joshua (28-3, 25 KOs) faced MMA star Francis Ngannou (0-2) a feared UFC heavyweight champion who nearly defeated lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury when they fought last October. This time he was not so fortunate.

Knowing that Ngannou knocked down Fury and lost by split decision, England’s Joshua walked into the boxing ring knowing the danger of underestimating the UFC champion from Cameroon.

“I saw his fight with Tyson Fury,” Joshua said.

From the opening bell Joshua carefully measured the African fighter’s range and tested the left hook power of Ngannou. After a few blows Joshua battered the body with a stiff jab. And when Ngannou switched to a southpaw stance and tried to fire a blow he was met with a bullet right cross. Down went Ngannou who beat the count and survived the round.

It was the first time in Ngannou’s professional fight career to be knocked down.

The second round saw Ngannou remain the aggressor, but more cautious. As the African fighter returned to an orthodox stance, he attempted a one-two combination and was met with a rocket right from Joshua. Down went Ngannou again. He got up slightly shaken but willing to engage. Joshua measured the distance again and suddenly fired a lead right directly on Ngannou’s jaw. The African fighter was out before he crumbled to the floor. The referee Ricky Gonzalez waved the fight over at 2:38 of the second round.

Fans at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh were stunned at the suddenness and brutal ending.

When Ngannou finally recovered he was congratulated and comforted by Joshua.

“I told him do not leave boxing,” Joshua said.

Parker Beats Zhang

In a match expected to be explosive, it proved more of a dud as New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (35-3, 23 KOs) survived two knockdowns to outwork and defeat China’s feared power puncher Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang (26-2-1) by majority decision after 12 rounds.

Zhang proved to be the big puncher as advertised, but his stamina or willingness proved an obstacle as Parker got up from a third round and eighth round knockdown and out-punched and outhustled the bigger Chinese heavyweight.

It was the second consecutive upset win for the former champion from New Zealand. Last December he similarly defeated former world champion Deontay Wilder.

The win by Parker can be avenged by Zhang who has a rematch clause.

“This is a great win,” Parker said. “Zhang is a tough man.”
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