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Did Tyson Fury perform poorly, or was Francis Ngannou actually ... good? Anthony Joshua fight will provide answers

Francis Ngannou shocked the world when he dropped Tyson Fury in his first professional boxing bout. Can he repeat the feat when he fights Anthony Joshua? Watch Joshua vs Ngannou live on Sky Sports Box Office on Friday March 8

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Relive the moment when Francis Ngannou shocked the boxing world when he knocked down Tyson Fury in 2023

Francis Ngannou may be one of the most high profile combat sports athletes in the world, but his true quality as a boxer remains to be seen.

Those questions will be answered when he fights Anthony Joshua on Friday March 8, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

So far Ngannou only has 10 rounds of professional boxing behind him. But they did come against arguably the best heavyweight in the sport in Tyson Fury.

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The Toe2Toe crew broke down what is at stake for Anthony Joshua in his clash against MMA fighter turned boxer Francis Ngannou

Ngannou did have success in the bout, dropping Fury even though ultimately he lost a split decision. Either he over-performed or Fury under-performed.

"It is difficult to know but it's going to be very interesting to find out," said Sky Sports commentator Andy Clarke.

"Talking to [Ngannou's] trainer, Dewey Cooper and he feels like there's a lot more to come in this second fight because in the first fight they were worried about his gas tank.

"They weren't worried about him burning nervous energy because of his elite level experience in MMA. But they were still a little bit worried about managing the 30 minutes and he feels like he could have let him off the leash more in retrospect and so they think that's going to be a big plus for them this time.

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"That they know he can do it, he knows he can do it and they won't need to be as cautious as they were in the first fight. Not that I especially noticed but they definitely think that there's a lot more to come."

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Watch this epic arcade-style blockbuster fight promo ahead of Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou on March 8

Clarke continued: "It is quite difficult to judge how good he is because Fury was poor. You have to give props to the person who 'over-performed' but he was poor, he really was. So getting a yardstick on exactly how good he is, is tricky."

Dan Hardy, a former UFC fighter and now pundit, believes a combination of factors created the "perfect storm" for Ngannou in his fight with Fury.

"It was a big shock. It was a real big shock," Hardy told Sky Sports. "I thought he would have his moments in the fight, given the fact that he's such a big, strong powerful athlete and also the surprise factor."

But he noted: "The thing that really surprised me was he wasn't biting on anything. He wasn't biting on feints, he was holding his shape, his composure very well.

"That was the biggest surprise for me and I think honestly for Fury and his team as well. Because I think they were expecting him to be more reckless and make their life a bit easier.

"That wasn't the best version I've seen of Fury, absolutely. I do feel like he was in the process of training camp for another fight, for the [Oleksandr] Usyk fight potentially," Hardy continued.

"But I was also very impressed with Ngannou. He looked far more like a boxer than I expected and Fury looked more untidy than I expected. I don't honestly think he was able to recover psychologically when he realised this wasn't going to be an easy night for him.

"From that point, it just kind of cascaded. It filled Ngannou with confidence because he could see things were just working out in his favour. The energy that he got from seeing Tyson hit the floor must have really lifted him."

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Francis Ngannou shows off his punching power, scoring 999 on a boxing machine ahead of his heavyweight clash with Anthony Joshua live on Sky Sports Box Office

Joshua's team certainly intend to treat Ngannou with the utmost professionalism.

His new coach Ben Davison told Sky Sports: "It's easy now after the fight for everybody to say: 'Oh Tyson didn't perform' and all the rest of it. But you have to give credit. That man's a dangerous man.

"People can say what they want. But Francis Ngannou had a very, very competitive fight with Tyson, who a lot of people consider to be No 1 so it's certainly a fight that's going to live up to the billing.

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MMA legend Dan Hardy believes that Francis Ngannou's 'unquantifiable power' will concern Anthony Joshua

"I've worked with Tyson, I know that he's a true professional. He never takes anything lightly in terms of preparation but sometimes I've also worked with fighters that it's been hard, you try to do everything you can physically, but mentally it's hard to give the opponent that same respect that you probably should, even though you're trying your best to. But Ngannou did shock me.

"You have to look at opponents, what works, what doesn't work, strengths, weaknesses and how you can apply those around a certain type of opponent and his style. So we've been doing and will be doing our homework."

Watch Joshua vs Ngannou live on Sky Sports Box Office on Friday March 8.

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