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06th Dec 2017

Anthony Joshua is being pursued by the scariest man in the UFC

Just take our money now

Darragh Murphy

Just imagine it.

We’ve seen that the professional boxing ranks might not be the best place for the UFC’s elite when Conor McGregor was put in his place by Floyd Mayweather in August.

Mayweather has recently admitted that he carried ‘The Notorious’ and allowed the fight to last 10 of the scheduled 12 rounds just to let the fans feel as though they’d got their money’s worth.

But there’s a big difference between Mayweather vs. McGregor and the potential boxer vs. mixed martial artist bout about which there are suddenly rumblings.

The difference is that Mayweather is the greatest defensive boxer of all time and has made it his life’s work to learn how to keep his chin out of harm’s way.

Anthony Joshua, while undoubtedly the biggest name in the heavyweight division does not possess the defensive soundness that Mayweather does. That’s not a slight aimed at ‘AJ’ because nobody is as good as Mayweather at protecting themselves.

Joshua is looking at a year of unification in 2018, with his eyes firmly fixed on WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker and WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder, before switching his focus to an all-British showdown with the returning Tyson Fury.

But the scariest man in the UFC wants to squeeze himself into the discussion as Francis Ngannou is eager to test Joshua’s chin in 2018.

Ngannou has gone from complete unknown to next in line for the UFC heavyweight title in two short years, with six consecutive stoppages putting the fear of God into all potential opponents.

The Cameroonian-French knockout artist recently registered the hardest punch ever recorded by sports scientists at the UFC Performance Institute and, shortly after that, he put that power to good use by almost decapitating MMA legend and former kickboxer Alistair Overeem in the co-main event of UFC 218.

To put it plainly, if Ngannou touches you then unconsciousness is the most likely outcome and while the 31-year-old regularly makes it look very easy with 4oz. gloves, it does make one wonder what he’d be capable of in the boxing ring.

While a shot at UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is next up for ‘The Predeator’, Ngannou’s head coach Dewey Cooper has suggested that he’d love to see his star pupil switch codes to test his striking prowess against a boxing champ next year.

“He has punching power,” Cooper told MMAjunkie. “Anyone that has that equaliser will fare well. If he spends more time and takes it seriously, trains hard, he could be a champ in boxing also.

“Everyone was so enthralled about the Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather fight. I’d like to see Francis about one year from now fight whoever the heavyweight champion is, whether it be Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. That would be a real fight, where an MMA fighter could go in there and upset a current boxing champion.”

It could well be another freak show fight but, hey, what’s the matter with that? Combat sports are all about providing closure to curiosity. We’d certainly pay to see Joshua vs. Ngannou and, don’t lie, you would too.