Ben Davison reveals the MAJOR mistake Francis Ngannou made in Anthony Joshua loss

It was a strength for Francis Ngannou when he so nearly defeated Tyson Fury last October, but it became a major weakness during his devastating loss to Anthony Joshua last Friday night.

Former UFC heavyweight king Ngannou shocked the boxing world when he almost defeated ‘The Gypsy King’ in his pro boxing debut. He had Fury on the floor and only lost a hotly disputed decision.

A feature of that bout was Ngannou regularly turning southpaw to befuddle Fury – a tactic ‘The Predator’ hailed as his key area of success afterwards.

But last Friday night, again in Riyadh, the tactic led to Ngannou’s downfall as he was blasted to defeat inside two rounds by Joshua (now 28-3 with 25 wins inside distance).

The first two minutes of the opening round saw Ngannou apparently acquitting himself well, until he turned southpaw. Immediately he was hit by a booming right hand down the pipe and sent to the canvas for the first of three knockdowns.

Davison AJ vs Ngannou

Joshua’s trainer Ben Davison said afterwards that this was a moment his fighter had prepared studiously for. Based on evidence not just from the Fury fight, but Ngannou’s MMA career as well.

He told Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour: “We’d prepared for that and we knew that he would struggle to defend if AJ done a couple of things beforehand to set a scenario up, he’d struggle to defend a right hand from a southpaw stance and that’s what happened.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou Knockdown heavyweight boxing Riyadh Saudi Arabia
Anthony Joshua knocks down Francis Ngannou in Round 1 of their heavyweight boxing fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 8, 2024 (Photo – Mark Robinson, Matchroom Boxing).

“I just think it was a mistake on his behalf – but I understand, again we had little looks at his MMA career, he’s done that throughout his career as well. That was something that we prepared for.”

So if the tactic had worked so well against Fury, why was Joshua able to capitalise in such devastating fashion when Ngannou dusted it off again last Friday?

Davison explained: “He’s not naturally a southpaw – we knew that if AJ done a few things, and established a few things, it would make it hard for him to know where or when the punches are coming from. Which would lead to AJ landing a flush right hand.

“And again, it doesn’t matter how good your chin is, if AJ is hitting you flush with a right hand, you’re gonna go down.”

Davison – AJ deserves the credit

Davison has now trained Joshua for two fights – and what a start it has been to their relationship.

First the two-time world heavyweight champion looked terrific in blasting out Otto Wallin after five one-sided rounds in Riyadh in December. Then came an even more brutal demolition job on Ngannou, capped off by that highlight-reel knockout in Round 2.

The narrative in many boxing circles is that Davison has somehow rejuvenated AJ – who has now won four straight since those back-to-back losses to Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022. It’s a narrative that Davison himself does not enjoy.

“What I don’t like is when they almost try to say we’ve rejuvenated AJ or anything like that. Because the work is his, the performances are his. There’s only one man that steps in those ropes – we step out of them.

“It’s his hard work, it’s him who is put under immsense pressure and under the lights – it’s him that’s going in there and doing it. It’s all on him.

“Like I’ve said numerous times, he’s the ultimate professional and he’s reaping the rewards of this.”

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