Joshua vs Ngannou LIVE! Boxing result, reaction and latest updates after devastating knockout

Joshua vs Ngannou LIVE! Boxing result, reaction and latest updates after devastating knockout

Joshua vs Ngannou LIVE!

Anthony Joshua made it four wins in a row with a devastating early knockout of Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on Friday night. The former two-time unified world heavyweight champion made light work of the formidable ex-UFC king in the main event of ‘Knockout Chaos’ at Riyadh’s Kingdom Arena, sending a clear warning to the rest of the division in the process - and particularly champions Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

Whereas Ngannou stunned the world by flooring a bloodied Fury on his professional boxing debut at the same venue back in October, he never got even remotely close to a chance to repeat that shocking feat against Joshua as he was knocked down hard in the first round and then again in the second before being quickly left out cold on the canvas by one of the most destructive right hands you will ever see inside the ring.

Friday’s undercard saw Joseph Parker recover from two heavy knockdowns of his own to deservedly pick up the WBO interim heavyweight title from Zhilei Zhang, while Liverpool’s Nick Ball was controversially denied the WBC featherweight title after a contentious split draw with Rey Vargas. Israil Madrimov brushed aside Magomed Kurbanov for the vacant WBA super-welterweight crown after Mark Chamberlain dominated Gavin Gwynne and Justis Huni outlasted Kevin Lerena. Tyson and Tommy Fury were also at ringside to watch brother Roman win again following early triumphs for Louis Greene, Ziyad Almaayouf and Andrii Novytskyi. Follow reaction from Joshua’s brutal win over Ngannou live below!

Joshua vs Ngannou results

  • Joshua demolishes Ngannou with brutal knockout

  • Parker beats Zhang to claim WBO interim belt

  • Ball controversially denied featherweight title in Vargas draw

  • Madrimov beats Kurbanov to become super-welterweight champion

  • Chamberlain dominates Gwynne after grotesque eye injury

  • Huni outlasts Lerena in late thriller to open main undercard

Joshua reveals Ngannou message after destructive knockout

12:42 , George Flood

Speaking in his post-fight press conference last night, Anthony Joshua revealed what exactly he said to Francis Ngannou in the immediate aftermath of such a brutal knockout defeat...

“I said don’t let this discourage you, don’t let success get to your head and you should never let failures get to your heart,” he said.

“I told him I think he’s an asset to boxing, 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 what I say I mean.

“I just told him keep your head high and also, if he hears this, in Cameroon, I know he’s got his charity and his organisation, also people that are trying to make it from Africa over to different continents, people are struggling.

“I said I want to link up with him and see if we can do some good work for the African community as well.”

Asked how Ngannou took the advice after the heavy knockout, Joshua added: “He wasn’t fully aware of what I was saying, but his team took it on board.

“I think he took the part where I said keep your head high, don’t let this shade everything that you’ve been through and everything that’s yet to come in your career.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Francis Ngannou says sorry after brutal knockout defeat

03:09 , George Flood

Francis Ngannou reacts to tonight’s comprehensive knockout defeat...

Hearn: I cannot wait for Anthony Joshua to beat Tyson Fury

01:19 , George Flood

It’s fair to say that Eddie Hearn was just a tad excited by that ruthless display of devastating knockout power from Anthony Joshua.

He calls Joshua unquestionably the no1 heavyweight in the world and the baddest man on the planet.

Hearn then implores Fury at ringside to beat Usyk and tee up what he calls the “biggest fight in the history of the sport”.

He also says that was one of the most destructive knockouts he has ever seen and insists that Joshua will not be beaten again.

“This man is a savage, a beast, the best heavyweight in the world and I cannot wait for him to beat Tyson Fury,” Hearn says.

What next for Anthony Joshua?

01:14 , George Flood

After demolishing Francis Ngannou, Anthony Joshua reiterates his desire to fight the winner of the undisputed showdown between reigning heavyweight champions Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury, rescheduled for May 18 in Riyadh after a nasty cut sustained by Fury in sparring led to the postponement of their initial February date.

It’s worth noting though that both Usyk - who has already beaten Joshua twice - and Fury have rematch clauses in their contracts, so it’ll be a while yet until a meeting with Joshua can happen.

Joshua will surely have to take on another fight or two before then to stay active.

Those aforementioned rematch clauses mean that the winner of the first Usyk-Fury fight will likely have to vacate the IBF title instead of facing mandatory challenger Filip Hrgovic.

Could Joshua vs Hrgovic for the IBF crown - the first world title Joshua ever won by knocking out Charles Martin in London in 2016 - be next on the agenda?

01:04 , George Flood

(Brazilian) Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho were among those to congratulate Anthony Joshua at ringside.

What a statement he’s made tonight.

01:03 , George Flood

Great respect shown between Joshua and Ngannou after that knockout.

Joshua can be heard telling Ngannou not to give up boxing.

Ngannou’s corner tell him that he’s a class act.

Watch: Anthony Joshua produces brutal early knockout of Francis Ngannou

01:00 , George Flood

Here is that devastating knockout from Joshua.

A lot of people saying it’s the most incredible right hand they’ve ever seen live!

00:56 , George Flood

What a picture of that enormous knockout blow.

One of the biggest punches and most brutal finishes to a fight you are ever likely to see.

I’m still in shock!

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

00:39 , George Flood

Replays show that was a colossal overhand right that knocked Ngannou spark out.

An absolutely shuddering shot. The first wasn’t bad either - another monster right that totally buckled his legs.

There was no celebration from Joshua as the medics attended to Ngannou, who thankfully is fine and now back on his feet.

00:36 , George Flood

Ngannou is thankfully now sitting up as he receives some oxygen.

That was such a brutal, brutal knockout.

Anthony Joshua knocks out Francis Ngannou in round two

00:34 , George Flood

Ngannou is down again with 40 seconds to go in the second!


Oh my word. Wow. Hope Ngannou is ok.

That was monstrous from Joshua. Absolutely lethal. What power!

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:32 , George Flood

Round 1

What a start it was from Ngannou, throwing some nice punches and switching stances.

But he may have got overconfident, Joshua starting slowly before stepping into a thundering right hand that sent Ngannou down.

What a shot. A reminder that Fury didn’t knock Ngannou down at all.

Ngannou, to his credit, responds well at the end of the first.


Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:30 , George Flood

Round 1

A really confident start from Ngannou, but HE’S DOWN WITH 45 SECONDS LEFT IN THE FIRST ROUND!

Can he make the bell or will this be over early?!

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:28 , George Flood


Can Francis Ngannou stun the world again and go one better than his controversial defeat by Tyson Fury?

Anthony Joshua can ill afford a shock defeat here...

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:23 , George Flood

Joshua is draped in his usual long white robe as he makes his way to the ring now.

Pyrotechnics akin to a WWE entrance as he walks down the ramp.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:20 , George Flood

God’s Plan by Drake is the ring walk music of choice for Ngannou, who is draped in a pink and white robe with pink, white and gold shorts and pink and white gloves.

As always, the former UFC heavyweight champion is an absolute picture of calm.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou

00:18 , George Flood

We’ve had the usual rendition of Sweet Caroline and it’s finally time for the main event ring walks at the Kingdom Arena.

Michael Buffer is back on the microphone and Francis Ngannou is on his way to the middle.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou next

00:10 , George Flood

It’s 10 past midnight in the UK - and 10 past three in the morning in Riyadh - and at long, long last the main event is almost upon us.

Don’t go anywhere - the mammoth heavyweight showdown between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou is on the way next!

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Joseph Parker expecting Zhilei Zhang rematch

00:08 , George Flood

Asked what’s next in his jubilant post-fight interview, Parker reminds everyone that he is contracted to give Zhang a rematch.

I don’t know if anyone really wants to see that fight for a second time, but we’re getting it.

A rematch clause for an interim title like that seems very silly to me, but there we go.

And the new! Joseph Parker beats Zhilei Zhang to win WBO interim title

00:02 , George Flood

113-113, 114-112, 115-111 - AND THE NEW!

Joseph Parker deservedly becomes the new WBO interim heavyweight champion by majority decision.

Zhang looks absolutely perplexed that he lost, but he can have few complaints.

He just did not do nearly enough aside from the knockdowns.

Sensational from Parker to come back from the knockdowns and a possible broken nose to pull off another enormous win that puts him right in contention in the division.

His partnership with Andy Lee has been worth its weight in gold.

Close friend and training partner Tyson Fury is among those celebrating with Parker in the ring.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:59 , George Flood

DAZN report that Zhilei Zhang did not land a single punch in that 12th and final round, having been told by his frustrated corner that he needed a knockout.

He just had absolutely nothing left in the tank.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:57 , George Flood

Round 12

If that’s Zhang when he’s told he needs a knockout...

Again, sluggish and so, so tired.

Parker has done brilliantly here and shades the final round as well.

We go to the judges’ scorecards.

Zhang has the two knockdowns, but he did preciously little else of note.

Parker was the busier, fitter and far smarter fighter throughout, knockdowns aside. Another great plan executed with the help of Andy Lee.

Surely he’s done enough to take this...

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:53 , George Flood

Round 11

Zhang is just exhausted here and it’s another Parker round as the busier and cleverer fighter.

I am fascinated to see how the judges are scoring this.

Zhang’s corner show their frustration before the 12th and final round, telling their man he needs a knockout to avoid losing his WBO interim title.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:50 , George Flood

Round 10

Another big right hook from Zhang clocks Parker early in the 10th.

But it’s the familiar pattern of him landing a huge shot and then failing to do much else in the round.

Again Parker is by far the busier, fitter and more active.

He’s boxing smartly as we enter the final three rounds.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:46 , George Flood

Round 9

This is a weird fight to score.

Zhang has the two knockdowns now but he does so little generally otherwise, with Parker the much busier of the two fighters pretty much all of the time and shading a lot of these rounds with his stronger output.

Is it down to conditioning? Zhang is starting to look very tired indeed, it must be said.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:40 , George Flood

Round 8

Plenty more action in the eighth as Zhang is woken up by a rocking early right hook from Parker.

He’s spurred into action and drops Parker again with a straight left that is followed by a short right hook that grazes the top of his head as he tries to duck out of it.

But Parker is undeterred and battles back before the bell.

Best round of the night so far.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:37 , George Flood

Round 7

A bit better from Zhang, who ups the tempo a little after a strange couple of inactive rounds.

But there’s been nothing really to trouble Parker since the knockdown in the third.

A rather odd contest this at the moment.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:32 , George Flood

Round 6

The odd approach continues from Zhang, Parker stepping in well and setting up his right hand.

Zhang doesn’t seem interested in throwing much of anything if it’s not a chance to unleash his huge left again.

He cannot continue to let the more active Parker outwork him like this and just gamble that he’ll end up with a knockout.

Zhang must step it up or the rounds will continue to drift away and Parker will only soar in confidence after what he did to Wilder at this very venue just before Christmas.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:29 , George Flood

Round 5

That round was the frustrating Zhang of old - he’s essentially taken it off, barely landing or even throwing anything.

It gives more confidence and belief to Parker, who is starting to box well and really outworking his opponent.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:25 , George Flood

Round 4

Zhang initially picks up where he left off in the third, crashing in another spiteful left hand - it is truly one of the best punches in the heavyweight division.

But all credit to Parker, who gets his legs back underneath him and comes forward, catching Zhang flush with a long right hook.

He also chops in a short right and left hook combo that gives the towering Chinese southpaw something to think about.

Enough there from Parker to bounce back and take the round?

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:20 , George Flood

Round 3

Parker is down in the third!

He comfortably avoided the big shots all night long from Wilder, but he cops a stinging left hand straight down the pipe from Zhang that sends him to the canvas.

What a punch!

Parker clings on, but he’s tagged hard again towards the end of the third.

Zhang will be sensing another emphatic finish here - blood coming from the nose of Parker.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:18 , George Flood

Round 2

It’s still tentative and cagey stuff through two.

A busier round from Parker, who wants to drill to the body and set up his right hand.

But Zhang is just so dangerous up close and has fired out a couple of warning shots early on.

This has yet to heat up.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:13 , George Flood

Round 1

A slow start and a cagey opening round.

As ever, the enormous Zhang tries to tee up that huge left hand, but Parker is wisely very aware of the danger.

Parker looks to want to go to the body.

The first three minutes pass off without any real action of note.

The busier Zhang just shading it?

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 23:09 , George Flood

Here we go!

Zhang is a big favourite tonight, but it would not surprise me at all to see Parker execute the same game plan we saw work to perfection against Wilder in December.

The southpaw element adds an extra layer of difficulty of course, but Parker again knows he must stay away from the big left hand, box smart and hope to take it on points.

This should be fascinating...

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 22:56 , George Flood

Zhang faces a tough challenge against former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, who suffered his third defeat - having previously lost to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte back to back in 2018 - in an absolute war with Joe Joyce in 2022.

He came back by reeling off three straight low-key wins over Jack Massey, Faiga Opelu and Simon Kean, before shocking Deontay Wilder in Saudi Arabia before Christmas and ruining the Bronze Bomber’s plans to finally meet long-time rival Joshua - who dominated Otto Wallin on the same bill - in a huge showdown in 2024.

Such a dominant win, in which one judge gave Parker every single round, breathed new life into the career of Tyson Fury’s close friend and training partner and even led to calls for the Andy Lee-trained New Zealander to get a shot at Joshua again.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker

Friday 8 March 2024 22:51 , George Flood

What a year 2023 was for Zhilei Zhang, who bounced back from his controversial loss to Filip Hrgovic by stunning the previously undefeated Joe Joyce with an emphatic sixth-round knockout at the Copper Box Arena last April.

A devastating third-round stoppage then ensued in the rematch at Wembley Arena in September, firmly installing the powerful and tricky 40-year-old Chinese southpaw as among the top contenders in the heavyweight division.

Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker up next

Friday 8 March 2024 22:45 , George Flood

The co-main event is up next in Riyadh!

It’s the first of two hopefully explosive heavyweight contests to headline the night as Zhilei Zhang defends his status as the WBO interim champion against Joseph Parker.

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Frank Warren furious as Nick Ball denied world title

Friday 8 March 2024 22:37 , George Flood

A disappointed Nick Ball says he felt he did enough as the clear aggressor in the fight to realise his world championship dream.

Promoter Frank Warren, meanwhile, is absolutely furious and utterly perplexed as to how that was ruled a split draw with two knockdowns.

He feels sure that we’ll see the fight again.

Nick Ball has also been rumoured to be one of Queensbury’s combatants for the five-versus-five event against a Matchroom quintet in Saudi Arabia.

Rey Vargas keeps title after Nick Ball draw

Friday 8 March 2024 22:32 , George Flood

Oh boy, that’s gonna cause some controversy - and the crowd certainly don’t like it.

The cards read 114-112 Vargas, 116-110 Ball, 113-113 - so it’s a split draw.

A bizarre set of cards and Nick Ball can feel so hard done by as Vargas just clings onto his title.

Hopefully we’ll see a rematch.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:29 , George Flood

Round 12

The incredible pressure from the dogged Ball keeps up right until the final bell.

Both men land shots in a closely-contested final round, the counter left hook is a lovely weapon for Ball as we saw time and time again in the second half of that fascinating bout.

But Vargas has never been stopped and we’ll go to the cards.

Ball’s team look sure they’ve won as they all embrace.

Vargas doesn’t look confident, he was so dominant through the first half of the fight but really lost his way and has those two knockdowns against him.

Has Ball done enough to become the new WBC featherweight champion?

We nervously await the judges’ verdict...

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:24 , George Flood

Round 11

The first knockdown was questionable to say the least, but no doubt about that one.

A panicked Vargas was already being forced back again before he’s caught with a short right that sends him down for the second time tonight.

Into the final round we go!

Is Nick Ball about to become a world champion?

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:22 , George Flood

Round 11

Vargas is down again with 20 seconds to go in the penultimate round!

This is absolutely incredible from Nick Ball.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:21 , George Flood

Round 10

There was a peach of a right behind the elbow there that forced Ball back as Vargas looks to regain some momentum.

That was a close round, the pressure from Ball is relentless. What a fighter he is.

Two crucial, crucial rounds coming up here.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:17 , George Flood

Round 9

Was Vargas hurt again there by a shot to the temple before the bell in the ninth?

Ball with all the momentum, though Vargas gets in a couple of decent shots in that round.

A completely one-sided championship fight has now become a real thriller.

You can’t take your eyes off it...

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:13 , George Flood

Round 8

Ball initially struggles to follow up on that brilliant seventh round, allowing Vargas to come back into things and settle down again somewhat.

But the Mexican is down again just before the bell in the eighth!

He’s trying to hold on and he’s spun and thrown around by Ball, who catches him with a big left hook and sends him to the canvas.

It’s rather generously called a knockdown and the referee counts.

Vargas gets up quickly, but he’s understandably furious that was allowed.

The champion is all over the place now. Stunning from Ball!

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:08 , George Flood

Round 7

Wow! What a momentum-changing round from Nick Ball.

He was on a hiding to nothing and had likely lost all six rounds, until he finally lands with a crushing overhand right that really hurts Vargas and stuns the champion.

Vargas is in trouble with wobbly legs as another big shot goes in from Ball!

Superb from the unbeaten Liverpudlian. Can he keep it up?

Vargas is really rattled now.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:05 , George Flood

Round 6

A very scrappy sixth, with Ball doing his best to rough up Vargas where he can and get into range but having such little sustained success with it.

Vargas cruising at the moment.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 22:02 , George Flood

Round 5

It’s just not working for Ball, pure and simple.

His team need to develop a new game plan very quickly, because round after round is slipping away in frustratingly similar fashion.

Has Ball won a round? I’d give him one of five so far.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:58 , George Flood

Round 4

Ball looks dangerous on the occasions when he does manage to lunge inside, letting his hands go and firing spitefully to head and body.

The problem is, those successful lunges are rare - mostly they are untidy, rushed, too telegraphed and easily negated by the much bigger Vargas, who is jabbing well and still delivering some lovely body punches with those long arms.

Ball looks perplexed as he gets Vargas against the ropes but the referee steps in to reset.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:55 , George Flood

Round 3

An interesting round as Ball continues his rushed attacks and continues to get some furious shots off on the inside, it’s just all so untidy.

There was even something resembling a judo flip on Vargas a little earlier!

Vargas looks ruffled by the frenzied Ball lunges as he tries to control the distance, but he’s still firing in some clean shots to the body.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Anthony Joshua in the house

Friday 8 March 2024 21:50 , George Flood

Anthony Joshua is now backstage at the Kingdom Arena!

Like Francis Ngannou, he’s looking nice and relaxed ahead of tonight’s huge heavyweight main event.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:47 , George Flood

Round 2

Good again from Vargas, again controlling the distance and looping in those long hooks to the body.

A frustrated Ball is trying to corner him as best he can, but the lunges are mostly much too telegraphed - though he does manage to hold inside and get some punches off midway through the round.

Vargas largely manages to get the control back, though Ball has more success towards the end of the second, lunging inside and getting some fast shots in.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:44 , George Flood

Round 1

Ball is trying to play the role of the aggressor early on here, but the size difference is already telling as he tries to launch his attacks from too far away.

Vargas is happy to keep the much shorter man at range and box nicely behind the jab.

Vargas peppering the body well in a comfortable opening round.

Ball has to find an effective way to get himself into range, or this could be a very long night.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:40 , George Flood

Here we go!

Can Nick Ball realise his world title dream on this massive stage in Riyadh?

The height difference is really quite something, and you very rarely see it to this extent outside of the heavyweight division.

Vargas is 5ft 7ins with a 71-inch reach, with Ball standing at 5ft 2ins.

How can Ball bridge that huge size disparity?

A certain Manny Pacquiao ring-walked with Vargas...

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball

Friday 8 March 2024 21:34 , George Flood

Nick Ball is unbeaten at 19-0 with 11 knockouts, outpointing Isaac Dogboe in a final WBC eliminator in Manchester back in November to earn this world title shot.

He will hope to become only the second man ever to beat Rey Vargas, who was unbeaten as a professional at 36-0 with 22 knockouts before going a step too far by going up against American O'Shaquie Foster for the previously vacant WBC super-featherweight title in San Antonio last February, dropping a wide decision.

Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball up next

Friday 8 March 2024 21:30 , George Flood

Really looking forward to this next fight, our second in a row with a world title on the line.

Liverpool’s Nick Ball challenges Rey Vargas for the Mexican’s WBC featherweight championship.

Quite a height difference in this one....

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho at ringside for Knockout Chaos

Friday 8 March 2024 21:23 , George Flood

There was a huge cheer during that fight as Jose Mourinho was shown sitting at ringside along with Turki Alalshikh.

It was reported a few weeks ago that Mourinho, who was sacked by Roma in January, had rejected an offer to become the new manager of Saudi Pro League club Al Shabab.

However, he has said before that he is convinced that he will work in the country in the future.


Eddie Hearn: Undisputed now the goal for Madrimov

Friday 8 March 2024 21:18 , George Flood

Huge praise from promoter Eddie Hearn for Israil Madrimov after that stunning performance.

Hearn insists that becoming undisputed at 154lbs is the only goal now, heralding the ‘Uzbek power’.

He calls him the new Gennady Golovkin and calls out the likes of Terence Crawford and Tim Tszyu.

And the new! Madrimov wins WBA super-welterweight title

Friday 8 March 2024 21:12 , George Flood

Madrimov still unbeaten at 10-0-1, succeeding the stripped former undisputed king Jermell Charlo as the new WBA world champion at 154lbs.

Kurbanov, meanwhile, drops to 25-1.

What a display from Madrimov, who delivers the post-fight acrobatics too.

Stunned by how easy he made that look. It should have been a proper challenge, but it was anything but.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Israil Madrimov stops Magomed Kurbanov in round five

Friday 8 March 2024 21:10 , George Flood

Round 5

Absolutely stunning from ‘The Dream’!

Kurbanov came back into the fight in the fourth, but probably still didn’t do enough to take the round.

He’s hurt and has his legs stiffened by a big blow early in the fifth.

Madrimov knows he’s in trouble and piles on the relentless pressure, trapping Kurbanov against the ropes before uncorking a massive overhand right that lands flush.

He drives in a few more blows with Kurbanov held up by the ropes before the referee steps in to wave it off, with no complaints from the Kurbanov camp.

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 21:07 , George Flood

Round 4

Better from Kurbanov in the fourth as he becomes busier and lets his hands go more.

Just starting to find his range better now and combatting the breathless style of Madrimov.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 21:02 , George Flood

Round 3

The dominant Madrimov is so light on his feet and creating great angles for attack, constantly on the front foot and forcing the tempo.

He follows up the solid right hand with another eye-catching left hook.

Madrimov looks really sharp and active and throwing plenty.

Kurbanov has had success with the odd shot, but otherwise he’s looking really rather static and overwhelmed, unsure of his game plan.

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 20:57 , George Flood

Round 2

This has been a lovely start from Madrimov, who is such a brilliant in-ring technician with dazzling footwork.

He did enough to shade a tentative opening round and then launches from down low to crack in a couple of big left hooks in the second.

Kurbanov too cautious and ineffective at the moment.

Friday 8 March 2024 20:55 , George Flood

By the way, Turki Alalshikh arrived before this fight ahead of the playing of the Saudi national anthem.

The DAZN broadcast reports that he actually missed the Mark Chamberlain fight, having been at another event.

However, Frank Warren quickly told him how impressive his favourite fighter had been and to watch it back when he gets the chance.

Francis Ngannou in the house

Friday 8 March 2024 20:52 , George Flood

Francis Ngannou is in the building!

And to be honest, he’d struggle to look more chilled and relaxed.

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 20:49 , George Flood

Here we go!

I know I’ve said this once already this evening, but THIS really could be your fight of the night contender.

Someone’s 0 has got to go...

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 20:48 , George Flood

This could be a real thriller between two unbeaten, highly-skilled fighters.

They are fighting tonight for the vacant WBA super-welterweight title that was recently stripped from Jermell Charlo, who has been named the ‘champion in recess’ after not fighting since his comprehensive defeat by Canelo Alvarez in October.

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov

Friday 8 March 2024 20:44 , George Flood

There had been real doubt that this next fight would even take place at all tonight amid rumours of an issue with Israil Madrimov’s first pre-fight medical.

There were some reports that the bout was cancelled, but others claimed that there was an abnormality that required further review.

However, Madrimov was eventually cleared to compete after more tests.

A former Asian Games and Asian Championship gold medalist, ‘The Dream’, is 9-0-1 as a professional, having seen his winning run frustratingly ended by a technical draw against Michel Soro at London’s O2 Arena back in July 2022 after a clash of heads that led to a nasty cut suffered by the Frenchman.

Madrimov beat Soro with a ninth-round stoppage in their first fight in Tashkent in December 2021, while he last fought with a decision win over Raphael Igbokwe last April.

‘Black Lion’ Kurbanov is 25-0 aged 28 and also had a tough time against Soro in his last outing last year, eventually taking a split decision.

Kurbanov also has wins over the likes of Liam Smith on his record.

Whose unbeaten record will fall tonight?

Israil Madrimov vs Magomed Kurbanov next

Friday 8 March 2024 20:34 , George Flood

Just three fights left now before tonight’s mammoth main event between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou.

We’ve got Liverpool’s Nick Ball challenging Rey Vargas for the WBC featherweight title soon, after which Zhilei Zhang defends his WBO interim heavyweight title against Joseph Parker in the chief support act.

But first up, Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov takes on unbeaten Russian Magomed Kurbanov for the vacant WBA super-welterweight title.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mark Chamberlain dominates Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 20:20 , George Flood

If Mark Chamberlain was hoping to put on a performance for Turki Alalshikh tonight after that surprising phone call where the Saudi Arabian chairman of General Authority for Entertainment personally requested his place on this card as one of his favourite fighters, that really could not have gone much better.

What was expected to be a genuine 50/50 banger between two heavy-handed British rivals proved anything but, Chamberlain absolutely dominating from the first bell and inflicting some serious damage from the outset to stay unbeaten and move to 15-0 as he also picks up the WBA Intercontinental lightweight title in the process.

Only a third pro loss for European champion Gwynne, who drops to 17-3.

He was previously outpointed by Joe Cordina and had only been stopped before tonight by James Tennyson back in 2020.

Would it have been any different without that gruesome injury?


Mark Chamberlain beats Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 20:13 , George Flood

Round 4

The relentless Chamberlain continues his one-sided beatdown in the fourth, with the referee hovering closer and closer as he looks to step in with Gwynne - who is still trying to fight back - eating more big punishment by the ropes.

It turns out he doesn’t need to as the towel comes in from the Gwynne corner.

A brutal performance from Mark Chamberlain.

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 20:11 , George Flood

A really horrible injury for Gavin Gwynne, sustained pretty much straightaway after the first bell.

This surely cannot go on much longer as he continues to take big punishment to that grotesque right eye...

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 20:09 , George Flood

Round 3

Absolutely terrific stuff this from Chamberlain... Gwynne just cannot adapt after sustaining such a bad injury so early on.

There’s a huge welt around the right eye that is getting bigger and bigger and forcing it almost shut. Must be so painful.

He’s just unable to read and avoid the huge punches, Chamberlain crashing in more left hooks and straights that find the target.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 20:04 , George Flood

Round 2

The confident Chamberlain just cannot miss with that vicious left hand and Gwynne’s right eye is closing up fast.

The Welshman’s face looks absolutely battered as he struggles to avoid any of these heavy punches.

Chamberlain’s hands are a blur and he’s attacking with such venom to both head and body.

The referee is keeping a very close eye on that cut. How much longer has this got to go?

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:59 , George Flood

The referee wants to have a closer look at that cut underneath that right eye of Gwynne before the start of the second.

This is already feeling rather ominous for the 33-year-old European champion.

On we go, for now...

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:57 , George Flood

Round 1

A superb start from Chamberlain, who steps on the gas from the outset and goes on the offensive, nailing Gwynne immediately with some very heavy shots including some stinging left hands.

The Welshman is taking some huge punishment early on here and has a bad cut around his right eye that looks worrying.

More thudding blows from ‘Thunder’ before the bell in the first.

What a round from Turki Alalshikh’s favourite fighter!

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:53 , George Flood

Here we go!

This has got potential fight of the night potential.

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:47 , George Flood

One interesting note about what could be a real banger of a fight between Mark Chamberlain and Gavin Gwynne is that the former’s presence on tonight’s fight card was personally requested during a phone call by a big fan of his in Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia.

What a chance for unbeaten southpaw ‘Thunder’ to impress on the biggest stage of his career against a really tough opponent in Gwynne.

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:44 , George Flood

The WBA Intercontinental lightweight title is on the line tonight between British rivals Mark Chamberlain and Gavin Gwynne.

Sam Noakes, who holds the British, WBO International, WBC International Silver and Commonwealth lightweight titles, is expected to face the winner of this bout later this year.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Francis Ngannou's incredible rise to a £15m shot at boxing glory

Friday 8 March 2024 19:37 , George Flood

In Batié, they call the local football team the San San Boys, a nod to the sand mines which loom large over the town in Cameroon, writes Matt Majendie.

It was there, aged 10, that Francis Ngannou made the decision, like many children of his age, to quit school and join the working ranks earning £1.50 a day.

Tonight in Saudi Arabia, his payday is estimated to be in excess of £15million as he bids to outbox Anthony Joshua. Throughout a remarkable lifetime, it is hope that the 6ft 4in, 18-stone man mountain has clung to above all else.

Hope for a better future beyond those sand mines, hope for survival as six times he made the treacherous crossing from Africa to Europe and failed, and hope of a home while living on the streets of Paris.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

With what has gone before, it is not so far fetched that the man measured to have the biggest punch in the world can hope to beat Joshua, despite this being just the second professional bout of his boxing career.

Joshua might be well advised to take heed to Ngannou’s favourite soundbite: “Never underestimate someone who has hope.”

Read the Francis Ngannou profile in full here

Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

Friday 8 March 2024 19:27 , George Flood

EBU European lightweight champion Gavin Gwynne is up against Mark Chamberlain next on the ‘Knockout Chaos’ bill in Riyadh.

Wales’ former British and Commonwealth champion Gwynne, 17-2-1, fought that memorable double-header against Craig Woodruff before beating veteran Italian Emiliano Marsili for the European crown a York Hall in December.

He now goes up against the unbeaten 14-0 Chamberlain, from Waterlooville in Hampshire, who knocked out Latvian southpaw Artjoms Ramlavs in November after also beating Marvin Demollari and Vairo Lenti in 2023.

Friday 8 March 2024 19:15 , George Flood

The big question now is, will we see Justis Huni representing Eddie Hearn and Matchroom on the five-versus-five event against Frank Warren and Queensbury in Riyadh later this year?

Is he ready for someone like Daniel Dubois?

Justis Huni outpoints Kevin Lerena despite thrilling finish

Friday 8 March 2024 19:12 , George Flood

The judges’ scorecards are in after that incredible finish in which Lerena so nearly got the last-gasp knockout he needed.

96-94 x2, 98-92 - all in favour of Huni, who hangs in there to win the WBO Global heavyweight title.

He moves to 9-0, with Lerena - who is still the WBC interim bridgerweight champion - dropping to 30-3.

What an effort from the South African southpaw following the death of his mother this week.

He should be very proud.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 19:07 , George Flood

Round 10

What a final round from Lerena!

He throws the kitchen sink at Huni and rocks him with a venomous left hook off the ropes with around 70 seconds left in the fight.

Huni staggers back and his legs have completely and totally gone, but a tired Lerena just crucially lacks the energy necessary to finish him off.

He tries his best with more shots including a nice uppercut, Huni just clinging on as he’s walloped again.

But Huni makes it to the final bell! Wow, what a finish.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 19:03 , George Flood

Round 9

Tough southpaw Lerena has a bit of pep at the start of the ninth, but it quickly saps away again and he’s visibly exhausted now.

Huni is totally controlling this fight after a sluggish start and should have a comfortable lead on the cards.

A huge effort from Lerena needed in the 10th and final round as his corner calls for everything he’s got.

No doubt he needs a stoppage.


Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 19:00 , George Flood

Round 8

Superb variety on display again from Huni, who is attacking both body and head with a full arsenal of straights, hooks and uppercuts.

He really moves up through the gears in the eighth, with Lerena really appearing to feel the pace now.

Huni going very nicely now and putting these rounds away.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:57 , George Flood

Round 7

Sensing the tide has evidently turned after that fast start, Lerena tries to up the tempo in the seventh, catching Huni strongly twice.

But he can’t sustain the momentum in between those solid attacks and Huni is able to get back on top.

There is blood coming from the nose of Lerena.

Huni isn’t a huge puncher for a heavyweight, but he’s got great variety and those solid shots are leaving their mark.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:52 , George Flood

Round 6

The best round of the night so far from Huni that, without question.

He’s finally on the front foot, letting his shots go in bunches, peppering Lerena to body and head and forcing him back.

He’s starting to go through the levels and show his quality and punch variation.

Lerena needs to respond, or this will slip away from him fast.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:48 , George Flood

Round 5

This is such a close fight at the moment as we reach the halfway stage.

Huni constantly wants to lurch forward off the ropes, but it often just invites a lot of pressure.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:45 , George Flood

Round 4

A really good battle this through four, with both fighters having their moments.

Lerena’s work rate has definitely dropped now, but he still looks dangerous when he puts the pressure on and gets his shots off.

Huni has weathered the early storm and now looks far more confident as he tries to go through the gears, though he might want to stay out of the corners and off the ropes.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:40 , George Flood

Round 3

A better round from Huni, and he needed it after a very wobbly opening pair.

He has his legs firmly back underneath him and he’s now fighting smarter, moving better and punching well to the body.

Lerena all of a sudden seems to be lacking energy after such an aggressive start to this fight.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:35 , George Flood

Round 2

Lerena looks so motivated and spiteful so far tonight!

He has Huni hurt and wobbled twice in the second, a straight left landing high on the forehead and buckling the Australian.

Huni is also hurt at close quarters, having tried to apply the pressure on Lerena and paid the price.

Footwork really lacking from Huni so far.

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:31 , George Flood

Round 1

A very entertaining opening round.

Lerena is in no mood to mess around and starts in very positive and aggressive fashion, finding his range and letting his hands go to spiteful effect.

This could be really explosive...

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:28 , George Flood

Underway in this opening fight of the main undercard in Riyadh!

Can these two heavyweights put on an early show?

Superstition by Stevie Wonder a great choice of walkout music from Brisbane native Huni.

Ngannou: I would smoke Anthony Joshua under MMA rules

Friday 8 March 2024 18:20 , George Flood

At yesterday’s weigh-in in Riyadh, Francis Ngannou expressed frustration that he could not take on any boxers on his home turf inside the octagon.

The former reigning UFC heavyweight champion unsurprisingly said that he would “smoke” Anthony Joshua under MMA rules and could even take on more than one opponent at once.

He said: "Sometimes it just makes me laugh a little bit, because we are going to fight in boxing rules, but what would happen if it was a 'free' fight under MMA rules?

"I would smoke this guy. I am the only one to go in their backyard, none of them can come in my backyard. I would take two of them at once."

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:12 , George Flood

Justis Huni is a 24-year-old 8-0 Tongan/Samoan-Australian heavyweight from Queensland, who like former IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia looks set to become a familiar fixture on these big cards in Saudi Arabia in the future.

He was a bronze medalist as an amateur at the 2018 World Championships in Russia.

Huni has only ever fought once as a professional outside of his native Australia, outpointing American Andrew Tabiti after 10 rounds in his only fight of 2023 in Cancun, Mexico.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 18:05 , George Flood

South African Lerena is a former IBO cruiserweight, WBA Inter-Continental heavyweight, WBC Silver and WBC interim bridgerweight champion.

He will be best known on these shores for knocking down an injured and stunned Daniel Dubois three times in the first round of their clash on the Tyson Fury vs Derek Chisora undercard at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium back in December 2022.

Dubois bounced back quickly on the night to win via a third-round stoppage despite a knee problem.

After that, Lerena won the vacant WBC Silver bridgerweight title by outpointing Ryad Merhy before picking up the interim WBC title with a decision win over Germany’s Senad Gashi in South Africa in November.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

Friday 8 March 2024 17:56 , George Flood

Tonight is set to be an emotional occasion for Kevin Lerena, who is still fighting despite the sad death of his mother on Thursday.

“Today I lost the strongest woman I have ever known,” Lerena wrote on social media before yesterday’s weigh-in.

“My mom fought tirelessly as a single mom to raise us, and her strength and determination will forever inspire me.

“Even in her final moments, she fought until the very end. She fought with all her might. Mom, I love you.

“I will carry on your warrior spirit. Tomorrow night, I will fight in your honour because you were a lion and you raised a lion.

“Your fight lives on in me, and I will always carry your strength with me. Rest peacefully in God’s kingdom.”

Anthony Joshua must avoid major Francis Ngannou trap

Friday 8 March 2024 17:48 , George Flood

Long before Red Bull’s Formula One team put out the unconvincing message that it was united as ever, boxing’s promoters were already streets ahead, writes Matt Majendie.

After years of acrimony between the likes of Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn, suddenly they are all smiles, sitting at the top table together for press conference after press conference. Saudi Arabia’s riches can do that to people.

Anthony Joshua will pocket an estimated £40million for a night’s work in facing Francis Ngannou in Riyadh tonight, but there is greater wealth awaiting, with the winner lined up to face whoever is victorious between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.

Defeat would not quite spell the end of Joshua’s career, but it would be a major setback on what is looking an impressive road to recovery following the double Usyk defeat. Losing would also be a blow to those promoters’ pockets.

So much rests on the 10 rounds of this fight, and the threat of Ngannou is very real. An MMA fighter by trade, he was dismissed by many as a gimmick opponent when lined up to face Fury.

Click here to read the fight preview in full

 (Action Images via Reuters)
(Action Images via Reuters)

Main undercard coming up in Riyadh

Friday 8 March 2024 17:42 , George Flood

So that’s an intriguing early prelim card in the books in Riyadh!

The main undercard is now less than 20 minutes away, so stay tuned.

I believe it will be the heavyweight scrap between Justis Huni and Kevin Lerena to open proceedings.

Click here to read the full blog on The Evening Standard's website