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Francis Ngannou hails Anthony Joshua’s brutal knockout punch: ‘I didn’t feel it’

Francis Ngannou congratulated his conqueror Anthony Joshua after being blown away in a devastating second-round knockout by the Briton, and admitted afterwards that he never even felt the final punch.

Joshua delivered a heavyweight clinic with a dominant victory in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, and in doing so reclaimed his status as one of the world’s elite heavyweights after several tough years in the sport since losing his world titles to Oleksandr Usyk.

Ngannou rocked Tyson Fury in the same city back in October, sending him to the canvas and eventually losing a controversial split decision. That performance was his first in professional boxing since making the transition from MMA, and left plenty of commentators questioning whether Joshua could handle his speed and power.

But Joshua proved he was far too good with a blistering display and a brutal finish.

“That was a clean one,” Ngannou said of the final blow. “In fact, I didn’t feel the punch. That’s what the knockout is about. I don’t feel any pain. That’s how I know I was knocked out ... It was quite special because it stopped me. It did what Tyson Fury couldn’t do. It wasn’t my day, and he’s just way better than me today. It sucks, but it’s the game, we all know that. It’s the game.”

Later he tweeted: “Sorry guys I let you all down. Today was a bad day in the office but tomorrow will be another day. Thank you all for the love.”

After ending the fight in style, Joshua then seemed to make a gun gesture at his preferred next target, Fury, who was sat in the front row at the Kingdom Arena.

Speaking in the ring after the win, the 34-year-old Joshua said: “If that was me [losing], you’d be saying, ‘Joshua should retire.’ I don’t know if I’m in my peak. I’m pushing day by day, who knows where it will take me? In five years, I won’t be fighting no more, this will be a distant memory.”

Asked if wanted to fight the winner of Fury and Usyk, who are set to box in Riyadh on 18 May for the chance to become undisputed heavyweight world champion, Joshua said: “I just want to fight, yes.”

Ngannou meanwhile will take some time away from the ring to reassess after his bold step into boxing took a serious knock. He had been linked with a rematch against Fury, as well as a bout against American former world champion Deontay Wilder, while he is set to return to MMA at some point this year to fight the new Ballator heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira.

But Joshua urged the Cameroonian to continue his boxing career, and Ngannou insisted he is “not done” with the sport and that there is more to come.

“As for right now, I think I’m going to go home, get some rest, process what just happened,” he said. “This has been a hell of a day, since this morning. I’ll process it and see what is the next step. But maybe MMA, but you can be sure that I’m not done here [in boxing]. Absolutely not. I’m not done.”