Francis Ngannou not only held his own against Tyson Fury, he bloodied and battered the reigning WBC heavyweight champion, even knocking him down in the third round of their entertaining 10-round affair last month in Saudi Arabia.
Since then, ‘The Predator’ has been inundated with potential challengers looking to test the skills of the World Boxing Council’s new No. 10 ranked contender. A rematch with ‘The Gypsy King’ appears to be at the top of Ngannou’s list, but matchups against division standouts like Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are certainly in the cards.
As much as current PFL commentator Dan Hardy would love to see Ngannou return to competing in four-ounce gloves, the former UFC title contender acknowledged the fact that ‘The Predator’ not only sought out the toughest possible test for his pro boxing debut but nearly walked away with the win.
“Tyson Fury stylistically is probably the most difficult for Ngannou to deal with,” Hardy explained on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani.“He’s tall, he’s got great upper body movement, great defense. Then you look at somebody like Anthony Joshua or a Joe Joyce, they’re a little more upright, they don’t necessarily take a punch quite as well. They definitely don’t regroup as well as Tyson Fury does.
“I feel like he’s taken on the stiffest test and proved himself. So the door is definitely wide open for him in boxing and say you put somebody like a Deontay Wilder in there. You’ve got two of the most thunderous punchers on the planet. But again, stylistically for Ngannou, there are holes in Deontay Wilder’s game that can be exploited when he’s punching. Honestly, I think all the doors are open for him. We could be looking at someone that can hold the WBC and the PFL title at the same time” (h/t MMA Fighting).
Dan Hardy hopes to see Francis Ngannou step inside the PFL Smart Cage before a return to boxing
Eddie Hearn, the longtime promoter of Anthony Joshua, has been lobbying for a fight with Ngannou, suggesting that his fighter would finish the former UFC heavyweight champion with authority.
Dan Hardy disagrees.
“I think honestly Anthony Joshua’s probably one of the better matchups for Ngannou out of all the heavyweights,” Hardy said. “I like the Joe Joyce idea because he boxes with a — I don’t mean amateurish — I mean an amateur technical style where he places his shots but his head’s very much on the center line. He doesn’t move it a lot.
“The thing is with Anthony Joshua, I don’t know if he can regroup if he hits the canvas, especially against an 0-1 boxer that’s still early in his career. I feel like it would unravel much quicker.”
Hardy isn’t convinced Joshua could survive the same onslaught that Ngannou put on Tyson Fury in their instant classic.
“For me, Anthony Joshua, that’s a much, much better matchup for Ngannou,” Hardy said. “I could see Ngannou putting him away.”
As intriguing as a fight between Francis Ngannou and Anthony Joshua could be, Hardy hopes to see ‘The Predator’ make his debut inside the PFL Smart Cage before turning his attention back toward the sweet science.
“I would like to see him back in MMA,” Hardy said. “I would like to see him hopefully headline the PFL pay-per-view event that’s coming up in the new year, maybe the first half of next year get him an MMA fight and then see where he’s at in the rankings and see kind of where the heavyweight division is at and if anybody makes sense. I feel there are some really good fights for Ngannou.”