Francis Ngannou 20lbs heavier than Anthony Joshua at weigh-in for Saudi fight

Francis Ngannou was 20.2lbs heavier than Anthony Joshua at Thursday’s weigh-in for their boxing match in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua, a former two-time unified heavyweight champion, will fight the ex-UFC champion in Riyadh on Friday (8 March).

Ahead of their 10-round professional contest, “AJ” and the “Predator” hit the scales and came face to face for the final time before Friday’s first bell. Ngannou weighed in first, coming in at 272.6lbs – 0.4lbs heavier than he was in his boxing debut against Tyson Fury in October. Joshua followed at 252.4lbs – 1.4lbs heavier than he was against Otto Wallin in December.

Ngannou dropped the unbeaten Fury in Riyadh before losing a controversial decision. The Briton’s WBC title was not on the line in that bout. Two months later, Joshua stopped Wallin in five rounds to make it three wins from as many fights in 2023.

After hitting the scales on Thursday, Ngannou said: “The mindset is still the same. This is just my second boxing match, even though I’m taking on the two best guys in the world in boxing. I’m the underdog, I’m going out there to prove that you can be an underdog and stand your ground.”

Asked why he appeared to smirk at Joshua, the 37-year-old Cameroonian said: “Sometimes it just makes me laugh a little bit, because we’re going to fight in boxing rules, but what would happen if it was a ‘free’ fight? I would smoke these guys! I’m the only one to go into their backyard.

“My official prediction is me leaving the ring with the victory.”

Joshua, 34, then insisted that he will “always, always” respect Ngannou’s skills. When asked whether Fury had failed to do so, Joshua said of his compatriot: “He can answer those questions himself, I can’t be a spokesperson for Fury.”

Joshua was also asked for his prediction for Friday’s main event, to which he laughed: “I deliver, I’m the postman!”

Anthony Joshua (left) and Francis Ngannou after weighing in for their bout (Getty Images)
Anthony Joshua (left) and Francis Ngannou after weighing in for their bout (Getty Images)

Ngannou last fought in mixed martial arts in January 2022, when he retained the UFC heavyweight title against ex-teammate Ciryl Gane. He then vacated the belt upon leaving the UFC in early 2023.

Later in the year, Ngannou signed with a rival MMA promotion, the Professional Fighters League (PFL). The Cameroonian is expected to resume his MMA career with the PFL before the end of 2024. However, Saudi adviser Turki Al-Sheikh has apparently told Joshua and Ngannou that the winner of their bout will challenge the winner of Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk.

Fury and Usyk were due to fight each other in Riyadh in February, but the Briton suffered a cut two weeks before the bout. As a result, the fight was delayed until 18 May. The victor of that clash will be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years.

Fury has said there is a rematch clause to ensure a second bout against the Ukrainian in 2024, complicating Joshua and Ngannou’s potential involvement in the title picture.