Fate of Former UFC Champion Francis Ngannou’s Boxing Career Will be Decided this Year

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Francis Ngannou made a surprise move across the combat sports spectrum to boxing in 2023 after failing to agree to extend his time in the UFC. While the news of Ngannou’s switch was an initial shock, stylistically, his heavy-hitting and strong frame always offered clear suggestions that he would fare well in the ring. 

The Cameroonian fighter started well in his blockbuster fight with Tyson Fury despite suffering an eventual defeat – he secured a knockdown and lost out narrowly on points. However, another huge opportunity will come next as another top heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, will face Ngannou to mark his second-ever boxing bout.

The former UFC star will know he has to get wins on the board sooner or later if he’s to establish a long-term career in boxing.

Ngannou’s slim title hopes rest on victory against Joshua

Ngannou will head into his second fight as a significant underdog, once again. As it stands, in the current outright odds for Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou betting, Joshua is the favorite with a price of -500.  Joshua will have huge motivations for earning a title fight soon and an emphatic victory against Ngannou could be a necessity in regards to that. The Paddy Power boxing odds suggest a knockout victory is likely with a price of -250.

Ultimately, shocking the world by beating one of the greatest heavyweights is what it could take for Ngannou’s boxing foray to become a long-term career. He showed how dangerous he can be in his opening fight against the Gypsy King, and Joshua is certainly less of a challenge.

If Ngannou is ever to mirror his world-champion MMA success in his newly taken-up sport, then he’ll have to beat those who are on the border of earning a title fight and his upcoming English opponent is exactly that. 

Another early loss on his record could cost him the chance of facing another high-level opponent in the rankings, and based on Ngannou’s career so far, he may not wish to stick around if he’s not a top contender. 

The former MMA star’s valiant debut efforts earned him little besides admiration for his resilience, he will hope that’s not the case again in his follow-up fight in March. 

Ngannou’s reputation could secure a long-term future of exhibitions

There’s no doubt that if Ngannou fails to secure a victory in the ring against Joshua, his chances of competing at the peak of boxing could completely collapse. However, there’s an argument to be made that he could earn future fights against fighters who are past their best based on reputation alone. The likes of Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte, for example, would serve as ideal opponents for exhibitions that could prolong Ngannou’s time in the ring.

Ngannou’s potential to continue boxing into 2025 and beyond may not necessarily rely on him beating Joshua in the early headline event of the year, yet his small chances of working towards becoming the world champion certainly do. 

If Ngannou’s plan has always been to simply enter a few one-off bouts, then his time in boxing could prove to be a thorough success. It’s more likely, though, that the Cameroonian is aspiring to become a title holder in a second combat sport.  

What truly will be decided this year is the perception of Ngannou in the heavyweight division – time will tell if he’s on a brief tour, or is prepared to shock the world with a journey to the top like his UFC rise. 

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