Wallin Sees Ngannou’s Power as X-Factor, Respects Joshua’s Skill

Recent Anthony Joshua knockout victim Otto Wallin gives boxing newcomer Francis Ngannou a chance of winning tonight based on his huge punching power in their fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Wallin notes that Ngannou possesses the type of power, confidence, and determination that could upend Joshua (27-3, 24 KOs), sending him down for his fourth career defeat.

Joshua’s Gameplan: Frustrate and Survive

If Ngannou lands his bombs at any point in the fight, Joshua’s chin will betray him, and we’ll see a repeat of what happened to him in his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. and his near defeat against Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua will make sure that doesn’t happen by using different tricks to keep Ngannou from getting near him to unload his bombs.

AJ’s Survival Tactics

  • Extending left arm: This was an old tactic Wladimir used in which he would hold his left arm far in front to keep his opponents from getting near enough to nail him with shots. Obviously, it wasn’t infallible, as the South African Corrie Sanders easily got past Wladimir’s lead arm to knock him out in two rounds, but it was still mostly effective
  • Movement: We’ll see the same mobility from AJ as we witnessed in his second fight with an out-of-shape 283-lb Andy Ruiz, and yes, it’ll be terribly boring to watch.
  • Jabbing: Expect a lot of jabbing tonight by Joshua to keep Ngannou from getting in position to land.
  • Clinching: Whenever Ngannou gets close, Joshua will dart forward and grab him in a tight embrace to shut him down. The way around this tactic is for Ngannou to fight through the clinch with his grappling skills, and nail Joshua with clubbing punches while being held. We Ngannou do this effectively against the mauler Tyson Fury, who was forced to pay a heavy price each time he attempted his ugly wrestling moves thought to him by his American trainer Sugarhill Steward.

Joshua’s Edge: Experience and Stamina

The skills advantage that the 34-year-old Joshua has in this fight makes it difficult for Ngannou to overcome, seeing that AJ has been in the professional ranks for 11 years, and fought in the amateurs.

Joshua has several trainers during those years to soak in knowledge, and more importantly, he knows how to get through a long fight without tiring.

He didn’t used to be that way earlier in his career, but AJ has learned how to pace himself to keep from gassing out due to his bodybuilder physique.

Wallin’s Verdict

“A guy like Ngannou, who is that big and who hits that hard, always has a chance, but I’m having a hard time seeing him beating Joshua,” Otto Wallin told Reuters.

“Since boxing against Joshua, I have a lot of respect for him. He was good—big, strong, with a long reach. He countered well.

“It’s going to be exciting to see what happens on Friday – we’re going to see how good Ngannou really is.”