Anthony Joshua praises Francis Ngannou after KO win: ‘Don’t let this discourage you’

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Anthony Joshua offered an uplifting message to Francis Ngannou after brutally knocking him out in their boxing match, and hopes the former UFC champ sticks to competing in the ring.

“Don’t let this discourage you,” Joshua told MMA Junkie and other reporters post-fight on Friday. “Don’t let success get to your head, and you should never let failures get to your heart. I think he’s an asset to boxing. I think he’s an asset to the fight game. Don’t be discouraged, and I respect you regardless. I said it before, and I still stand on it. I know we had to fight, but I just told him, ‘Keep your head high.'”

Joshua put on a dominant display at Kingdom Arena when he knocked down Ngannou in the opening round of their heavyweight bout. He kept the pressure in the second frame, scoring another knockdown before dropping Ngannou for a third and final time in devastating fashion.

For Joshua, the result was a product of focus and determination.

“He’s a big guy, strong guy, talented guy,” Joshua said. “He got up and looked pretty stable so I thought, ‘Just keep doing what I’m doing, don’t get carried away and what will be will be.’ And we managed to drop him three times – one, two and then the third one (he was) out.”

With the win, Joshua positions himself for a showdown against whoever comes out of the two-fight series between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. The pair meet for the undisputed heavyweight title on May 18, with a rematch clause already in place.

Joshua would like nothing more than to run the gauntlet and become the top dog in the division, but he said keeping grounded is the only way to reach that great height in the sport.

“One step at a time,” Joshua said. “I’m just thinking one step at a time. It’s hard to become a champion, let alone a unified champion, let alone an undisputed champion. It’s far, far-fetched. It’s close, but who knows? We plan, but certain things are already written. If I get there, I get there. And if I don’t, I don’t. But I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself anymore.”

For more on the fight, visit MMA Junkie’s hub for Joshua vs. Ngannou.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie