Boxing’s heavyweight division is risking its credibility in the upcoming March showdown between Francis Ngannou and Anthony Joshua, according to George Groves.
Englishman Groves, a former WBA (Super) super middleweight champion, said in a recent interview hosted by Grosvenor Casinos and highlighted by Boxing Social that boxing’s heavyweight division would likely collapse should Ngannou defeat Joshua in their bout scheduled for Saudi Arabia on March 8.
“Ngannou hasn’t been boxing long, how can he defeat an Olympic champion who went on to win multiple world titles? AJ’s not past his best, he’s not on the way out. He looked flat at the start of last year but he looked a real force against [Otto] Wallin,” Groves said of the upcoming contest.
“So I hope he puts it on Ngannou and doesn’t put safety first. I hope he comes out hungry to make a statement, I think AJ can knock Ngannou out. I think he needs to win and win well. And if he doesn’t, we need to stop caring about the heavyweight division, it would be a farce. It would not happen in any other sport.”
Of course, these types of statements appear similar to those that flooded the media landscape ahead of Ngannou’s professional boxing debut in October where he came close to upsetting WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, losing the fight by razor-thin split decision after dropping the giant ‘Gypsy King’ with a thunderous third-round left hook.
And for Joshua, that stakes are even higher should be not make light work of the former UFC champion.
“Joshua has got it all to lose, a loss for Joshua would be curtains,” Groves said. “His last defeat was against Oleksandr Usyk, who I think is a phenomenal fighter, whereas this time around, if he loses to Ngannou, a guy in his second fight, that’s going to be a disaster.
“There will be a question mark over his career and legacy, especially because he’s not a faded fighter, he’s not shot, it’s not like Ngannou will be catching Joshua as the tail end of his career. AJ put in a really good performance against Wallin but if he’s beaten by Ngannou that’s a nightmare. It’s a big pressure fight.”