Paulie Malignaggi: Anthony Joshua More Confident With Ben Davison

Paulie Malignaggi says the version of Anthony Joshua that laid waste to Francis Ngannou on Friday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a more confident version of the former two-time world heavyweight champion – one that materialized with the arrival of trainer Ben Davison.

Joshua has since scored one-sided wins over Otto Wallin and now Ngannou since linking up with Davison and his team, and the differences have been visible.

“[Joshua] wasn’t looking as confident until Ben Davison came in. That was, for me, the combination that really did the trick,” Malignaggi told ProBox TV. “It wasn’t just that he beat Wallin, it was how he beat Wallin. And that was how he came in and he dominated this fight.”

Ngannou was devastated in two rounds, dropped three times in all, before the emphatic final knockdown.

“He barely beat that count, too – that second knockdown,” Malignaggi said. “The first one, in the second round, you already knew. He got up differently from the second knockdown than the first knockdown. That first knockdown, Joshua got his attention. That made Ngannou say, ‘Wow, this is for real.’ Until the first knockdown, Ngannou was aggressive, he was throwing a couple of uppercuts, he was throwing some power shots. Joshua stayed poised.

“The first knockdown took the excitement out of Ngannou. The second knockdown made him wonder if he even wanted to be there. The third knockdown made sure he didn’t have to wonder – he was already not thinking. He was out cold.”

Joshua was measured and did not get over-excited. Even with victory in his sights, he did not rush anything.

“Joshua walked back up to Ngannou already knowing what Ngannou was going to throw, because a basic fighter only has so many options,” Malignaggi said. 

“People forgot about it, [but] Joshua has power, too. It’s not just the technique that’s going to beat him; his power is going to hurt Ngannou. This is a heavyweight that knows how to punch, and he knows how to land that power.”

Malignaggi was also impressed by how Joshua coped with the pressure of representing the sport and having the burden of boxing’s hope and expectations on his shoulders after Ngannou took Tyson Fury to the wire last October.

“All the pressure’s on Joshua, for boxing – because of the way Fury looked bad, for the fact that Ngannou’s a super-heavy puncher and any shot that lands could be dynamite, no matter what, for guys that are that big,” Malignaggi said. “[Ngannou]’s a better fighter than any MMA fighter that’s come to boxing to do it before, so you’re dealing with pressure, and people are underestimating the pressure Joshua was under, and he did it in a technical way.”

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