Ngannou Discusses Issues Prior to Joshua Knockout

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Francis Ngannou sensed something was off in the moments leading up to his bout against Anthony Joshua, but he refuses to offer excuses for his defeat.

In just his second professional boxing match, the former UFC heavyweight champion experienced a stark contrast to his closely contested bout with Tyson Fury. Instead of replicating his previous success, Ngannou found himself knocked down in the first round and then floored in a similar manner in the second.

The fight’s conclusion came shortly after Ngannou rose to his feet. Joshua landed a devastating overhand right that effectively ended the match in a dramatic fashion. While Ngannou knew the risk of being knocked out by Joshua, he did not anticipate it unfolding in such a manner.

Speaking during an Instagram Live session, Ngannou acknowledged a pre-fight unease he felt during warm-up backstage. 

“We all knew it could happen. I wasn’t seeing it happen like that, but I always knew it could happen. At least, I was always prepared for that.”

He speculated that his opponents in the past might have experienced similar apprehensions facing him, which is why he refrains from diminishing Joshua’s performance.

“I remember being in the locker [room] trying to warm up, and bro, it wasn’t going. I was falling asleep. I’m sweating, but I’m falling asleep.

“But I assume that’s how some people I have fought, some people that I beat have felt before, but it was basically my first time to feel that. That’s why I kind of took a couple days out, I took some time for me. I obviously had to reflect on everything that’s happened through the fight.”

Although the fight’s late timing, occurring past 3 a.m. local time in Saudi Arabia, may have contributed to Ngannou’s pre-fight discomfort, he refuses to discredit Joshua’s victory. He also absolves his coaches and teammates of any blame, recognizing that everyone fulfilled their roles that night, except for him.

“Heads up to Anthony Joshua, to his team, that executed their plan properly. Hats off to my team, too, because they did a great job. I think I was the one that just didn’t execute the plan properly and maybe didn’t feel completely present. I was the only one that didn’t show up, let’s say that.

“Everybody showed up and did what should have been done. No blame to anybody. All the blame is just about me. That’s the game.”

In the aftermath, Ngannou reports no lingering effects from the knockout but has sought medical attention, scheduling an appointment with a neurologist. Despite this, his decision to take a break from competition is not solely based on health concerns but also on the need to decompress after a demanding few months.

“I was conscious right after [the knockout], and since then everything’s been good. Still going to run some medical work, just in case.

“Right now, I don’t know exactly what the fight I will be looking for next. I know that I’m going to take some time to rest up, focus on myself, and then when I’m ready I will get back to training. Therefore we can start to discuss the fights. As for now, we will just live the life. Because always remember, it doesn’t matter what is your profession, there’s always a life, we have a life going on that will continue to go.”

Despite the recent setback, Ngannou remains committed to boxing and reaffirms his dedication to competing in the PFL. However, he remains uncertain about his next steps, recognizing the challenges ahead in both sports.

“I’m not done with boxing, I’m not done with MMA. Basically right now, I have an opponent now in the PFL in Renan Ferreira. That will be my future opponent in the PFL, but again, I basically have a lot of fights in the future. I can still combine [sports], I will still be back in action. Not because I’m more comfortable in MMA that I will let boxing go. I’m still going to do both.

“It’s part of what we do. We take challenges. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work. But we are working on it.”

While awaiting his assumed PFL bout against Ferreira, Ngannou remains open to potential boxing opponents, including a potential matchup with fellow knockout artist Deontay Wilder. Although he has yet to make any decisions, Ngannou anticipates staying active once he is prepared to return to the ring.

“It’s not over yet – not at all. We’re just getting started. The only thing that we will miss this year is time, and I think we have some good amount of time ahead of us. Going to take some time for myself, chill, spend time with my family, my friends and then come back ready.”

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