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David Haye warns Anthony Joshua not to risk trading punches with Francis Ngannou

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 27-3 (24) will need to adjust his style to defeat former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou 0-1 at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Friday night.

That’s the opinion of retired former undisputed cruiserweight champion David Haye, who says despite the 34-year-old Brit’s successful run of three fights for three wins last year, he will need to enter the ring with a different mindset tomorrow night.

Cameroon’s Ngannou, 37, shocked the boxing world in his debut last October when he dropped reigning WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) with a big left hook in the third frame of their 10-round non-title contest only to drop a disputed split decision.

The element of mystery has gone from Ngannou now, who has shown he won’t be intimidated by boxers with more experience in the square circle.

Haye says that while Ngannou is a dangerous fight, Joshua should win providing he employs the right game plan and sticks with it.

“The first couple of fights he had [in 2023] he was very measured, he was taking his time,” Haye told DAZN. “But the Otto Wallin fight, I like the fact he took his time. He didn’t rush. He was picking his punches, he was working on his distance.

“He seems very much in control and he needs that type of energy to enter a Ngannou fight.

“Against Otto Wallin, who came to win but he didn’t fight like his life depended on it… But Ngannou is a different beast altogether.

“The fights that he has had since [back-to-back losses to Oleksandr] Usyk have prepared him for this type of fight. The fight that he needs to be in is the safest fight for him. He needs to use his skills, lateral movement, and physical abilities.

“Standing and trading, which I wanted him to do in his earlier fights when he returned after he fought Usyk – I wouldn’t recommend that strategy against Ngannou.

“Tyson Fury tried to do that, but he got caught with that big left hand and went down. He [Ngannou] punches those punch machines and he scores 999.

“If you stand with Ngannou and you are a human being and you get hit by him, you are at least going down very heavily.”

Britain’s Fury, 35, gatecrashed the pre-fight press conference and proceeded to rile up Ngannou. Haye gave his thoughts on proceedings.

“In the back of his mind he’s looking and thinking ‘I could crush you right now’, and he’s right,” Haye said.

“He’s used to choking, kicking, kneeing He’s shown something that no MMA fighter has done before, he’s gone in there against arguably the best heavyweight in the world and on many people’s scorecards won the fight.

“Anthony Joshua knows that. He’s got a heads up that this guy isn’t just an MMA fighter. He’s a legitimate world-level boxer, who’s able to win many rounds and knock down Tyson Fury. That’s what’s going to make Anthony Joshua rise to the occasion.

“If Anthony Joshua was to have fought Ngannou without Ngannou fighting Tyson Fury, he’d have had a hard night. Now that he knows he’s gotta raise his game through necessity, it’ll bring the best out of him.”