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Anthony Joshua knocks Francis Ngannou out cold with vicious 2nd-round finish

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Francis Ngannou is knocked down by Anthony Joshua during the Heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou on the Knockout Chaos boxing card at the Kingdom Arena on March 08, 2024 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)
Anthony Joshua did what Tyson Fury couldn't against Francis Ngannou. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images) (Richard Pelham via Getty Images)

Francis Ngannou began his boxing career with an impressive loss to Tyson Fury. He followed it up with an unimpressive one to Anthony Joshua.

The UFC heavyweight champion-turned-boxer fell via a vicious second-round KO to former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, who scored his fourth straight win since losing his titles to Oleksandr Usyk.

The fight went fine for Ngannou for a couple minutes, but a switch to southpaw opened him up for a knockdown via a hard right from Joshua. Even though Ngannou had little trouble getting up, the tone was set for the short remainder of the fight.

The momentum was firmly Joshua's at the start of the second round, with Ngannou biting on every feint and not displaying the power that made him a star in the MMA world. Joshua got his second knockdown after a few minutes, then knocked the Cameroonian underdog out cold with a little over 30 seconds remaining.

Ngannou needed a few minutes to get back up, then received oxygen as he awaited the official announcement on his stool.

It was the kind of domination many people expected when Ngannou first faced Fury. Ngannou arrived in the sport as one of too many UFC fighters looking for a better payday, but quieted all doubters with a 10-round performance that saw him drop the WBC champ and win the fight on one judge's scorecard. It was impressive enough that he got Joshua for his second fight, but that wound up being more than he could chew.

Ngannou's boxing record now sits at 0-2 and it's unclear where he goes from here. He still has an MMA career at PFL, but his boxing future will require some calculation on how to balance the quality of his next opponent. He's received the kind of opportunities the vast majority of boxers only dream of and there's no shame in losing to champions, but he'll need a win at some point.

As for Joshua, he and his promoter Eddie Hearn made clear he was gunning for another title shot against the winner of Fury vs. Usyk on May 18. Ngannou isn't exactly the kind of opponent to move you up the heavyweight ladder, but it's pretty arguable Joshua was already there.