Fabio Wardley: Anthony Joshua Ready to Make a Statement in Friday’s Fight

Fabio Wardley believes that Francis Ngannou will get a first-hand demonstration of just how much Anthony Joshua has improved since linking up with Ben Davison when the two meet in Saudi Arabia on Friday night.

Joshua and Davison worked together for the first time last December and Joshua put in his best performance for a while, forcing Otto Wallin to retire on his stool after five one-sided rounds.

Wardley has been preparing for his British and Commonwealth heavyweight title defense against Frazer Clarke at the Ben Davison Performance Centre and although the 29-year-old has been focused solely on his own business, he has seen enough of Joshua to realise that the two-time unified champion is primed to produce another impressive performance.

“He’s ready to use this fight to make a statement,” Wardley told iFL TV. “Not to say, ‘I’m back’ like he’s been missing, but I know a lot of people have been calling to say, ‘Where’s the old AJ?’ So I think he’s kind of using this fight to be like, ‘Look, I’m going to put on a performance.’ You got to see a little glimpse of it last time out but this time you’ll really see the full extent.

“He’s had a lot more time to work with Ben and stuff and hone his skills so they’ll all come together I think on fight night.”

Everything points towards the winner of Friday’s fight meeting either Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight title later this year. Fury – who holds the WBC title – and WBA, IBF and WBO champion, Usyk, will finally collide in Riyadh on May 18.

Joshua is a clear favourite to beat Ngannou but if he were to succeed where Fury failed and stop the Cameroonian, it would send a clear message to his rivals. Wardley doesn’t rule out Joshua scoring an eye-catching knockout but does respect Ngannou’s toughness.

“It’s hard to say,” said Wardley. “He’s definitely got the power to do it. If the opportunity arises I don’t think he’d shy away from it at all. He’ll definitely take advantage of it but Ngannou is a very tough man and also a man who is used to taking elbows and knees as opposed to padded punches, so we’ll see.”