Tom Aspinall on Joshua v Ngannou

MMA Interim Heavyweight Champion Tom Aspinall gives his verdict on his Youtube Channel

Tom Aspinall gives his verdict on the fight between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou.

"Ngannou is, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous punchers ever. He is an absolute physical specimen. I thought he was just dangerous with the little gloves on, you know, he comes in from all angles, he throws all over the place, he's a little bit wild. And then, obviously, when he put the boxing gloves on, the 10 oz, obviously that transferred over, and the guy is just an absolute truck. I think that one of the things that is most dangerous, from my perspective, who is obviously an MMA fighter, I've sparred a lot of rounds with Tyson Fury, a lot of rounds with other professional high-level boxers, and the success that I have personally is when I do unorthodox things. You know, boxers, they've been sparring, they've been fighting since they're young, you know, let's say they're 30 years old, they've been sparring and fighting since they were 10. Most boxers have very similar styles, they're working behind a jab, a double jab, a one-two, a one-two left hook, traditional stuff. Whereas MMA fighters, they're throwing punches from angles that they're not used to, they're doing unorthodox movements, and I think that's where Francis Ngannou is most dangerous. Not only is he a specimen, not only does he hit hard as hell, he also is unorthodox and hits from angles Anthony Joshua isn't going to be used to."

Aspinall goes on to discuss Ngannou from his own experience trying with the Cameroonian warrior.

"One of the biggest advantages that Francis Ngannou has against anybody is he's not intimidated. The guy is an absolute truck, both mentally and physically. He's a physical giant, but he's also a mental giant. What he's been through in his life to get where he is, what he did against Tyson Fury, is absolutely unprecedented. Like I've sparred, as I just said, loads with Tyson Fury, absolutely loads, and I've seen him up close, I've seen what he does to people, I've sparred with him myself, I've seen what he's done to me, and I thought he had absolutely no chance, and now I'm watching the fight with Joshua. If you would have asked me that question two years ago, how would Anthony Joshua get on with Francis Ngannou, I would have said that's the most stupid question I've ever heard in my life. Now, a couple of weeks from the fight, I'm like, this could go either way, this could go absolutely either way. So I think one of Francis Ngannou's biggest strengths is he's not intimidated by Joshua, and he will get in his face, and he believes, he truly believes that he can knock him out."

"I think you could look at Ngannou and say his boxing ability is his weakness, but in the Tyson Fury fight, he showed that he had plenty of boxing abilities. Like, as I said, I've sparred loads with Tyson Fury, I've seen him spar up close, I've seen him fight up close. The guy's boxing ability and his boxing IQ are in another planet, do you know what I mean? It's on another universe. But he can obviously hold his own in boxing, and he's such a physical specimen, so aggressive, and he knows how to fight so much that it kind of evens up the odds a little bit, the fact that his boxing ability is lacking. He can make up for it in other areas as well."

Aspinall clearly respects both fighters and points towards Joshuas amateur boxing experience that may just give him the edge.

"AJ has an extensive amateur background, people forget about it a lot. People just think about his recent performances against Usyk, against Ruiz. Obviously, he's taken losses in those fights, but the guy's an Olympic Gold medalist. The boxing amateur boxing pedigree is way beyond 99.9% of the people who are involved in boxing. So I think that he has to use his conventional route, he needs to stay behind the jab and needs to stay strict with his defense. He needs to keep him guessing, don't let Francis Ngannou settle and set his feet on those power punches. Both guys are extremely hard punchers, extremely hard, but I think AJ's way to win is by staying traditional, staying tight defensively, and don't get dragged into a scrap with Francis Ngannou because it could be lights out. Does AJ have any weaknesses? Every fighter has got weaknesses, mate. Every fighter has got weaknesses. When you talk about two guys like that, massive giant guys, 6โ€™5, 6โ€™6, you know, 120 kilo plus, whatever they weigh, loads of knockouts on the record, both guys can lose at any time. So, of course, both guys have got a way to win. I think Ngannou's weaknesses would be his, maybe his boxing ability a little bit, but as I say, he makes up for that in other attributes. And I'd say AJ's weaknesses would be kind of the unpredictable nature of Francis Ngannou when he's inside the boxing ring."

I think fighting someone that muscle-bound, you've got to try and drag them into the waters and get them tired. Do not get dragged into a scrap early on with Francis Ngannou because that is suicide. You got to jab him, you got to move him, you got to stay slick, you got to keep the hands tight defensively, don't get greedy with the punches, and just be slicker than him. Just use your boxing pedigree and don't think it's a street fight with Francis Ngannou because that is going to turn really bad. Drag him into the late rounds, get him tired, get him swinging and missing, get him hitting fresh air, and I think that's what AJ needs to do to get the win."

Tom's fight pick...

Anthony Joshua - 2/7

"I don't want to make a prediction. I honestly wouldn't be surprised either way. I think heavyweight combat sports are absolutely wild, and you can't be surprised if anybody wins. I'm kind of rooting for both guys, you know, like Francis Ngannou, who's the MMA guy, his backstory is incredible, absolutely a massive fan of his. AJ is obviously an English guy, I'm an English guy. I don't know AJ personally, but I like his story too. But, I would say right now, Joshua, but as I said, I would not be surprised if Francis Ngannou sparked him out in the first round. Okay, that's my opinion."

Fight Odds

Anthony Joshua - 2/7

Draw - 22/1

Francis Ngannou 11/4