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Francis Ngannou could be a banana peel for Anthony Joshua, according to former world champ

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou. Photo credit: Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou 0-1 will be a dangerous opponent for former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 27-3 (24), according to Enzo Maccarinelli.

The retired former WBO cruiserweight champion says he was impressed by the 37-year-old Cameroonian’s game plan in his lone boxing fight, a 10-round split decision over WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) in their non-title fight in Saudi Arabia last October.

Ngannou stunned the 35-year-old Brit in the third round, knocking him down with a big left hook before going on to lose the fight 94-95, 95-94 and 93-96.

“I think he came up with a plan,” Maccarinelli told Sky Sports. “Fury likes people coming at him. He likes people throwing shots at him. That’s where he counters and moves round, makes them miss, makes them fall short.

“Ngannou, he held his ground, he waited, he was patient more than anything else.

“I’ve watched Ngannou, he’s a powerhouse, he comes in and throws good shots. I don’t think he’s very well skilled [in] boxing but he can punch, he can throw his shots and he’s very committed when he threw a shot. So that’s what I was expecting to see.

“I was expecting this big powerhouse of a man, who makes himself bigger, gives himself an aura. But I think he knew Fury wouldn’t fall for that. Fury wasn’t scared of that.”

Joshua was expected to face former WBC champion Deontay Wilder 43-3-1 (42) in the first quarter of this year, but that fight fell through when the big-hitting American dropped a wide points decision to Joseph Parker 34-3 (23) in Saudi Arabia two days before Christmas.

As a result, Britain’s Joshua, 34, will take on Ngannou instead.

“It’s a dangerous fight for AJ. If he takes his eye off the ball, there’s an opportunity he could get caught,” Maccarinelli said.

“I don’t think so. We’ve seen how well Ngannou performed against Fury, I think that has switched [Joshua] on. That has made him realise I can’t go messing around with this guy. So it’s going to be interesting.

“He’s got masses to gain but he’s got masses to lose as well. Because [Ngannou] is still an MMA fighter.

“Of course, he could [knock AJ down], he’s got the power. I don’t think [he will].

“When you look at it as a whole AJ should be beating Ngannou, he should be beating Ngannou well. But Fury was also supposed to.”

Maccarinelli added: “Maybe what he’s done with Fury has given him that little bit more confidence. Confidence is a massive thing in boxing. If he can come out and catch AJ early, make AJ worry about what’s coming at him, start bringing the nerves back from the Andy Ruiz fight, the shot he took off [Wladimir] Klitschko, he might have a good chance. I am expecting Ngannou to come out fast.

“We’ve got to give him credit. Going in to fight arguably the number one and arguably the number three in the world in his first two fights, I take my hat off to him.

“He’s not going to mess about. He is coming to win.”