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Ben Davison: Ngannou a Credible Opponent for Joshua

Ben Davison: Ngannou a Credible Opponent for Joshua

Best laid plans often go to waste in boxing but when Ben Davison took over the reigns of Anthony Joshua’s training team, he probably assumed he would spend the first part of 2024 preparing the two-time unified heavyweight champion for a shootout with Deontay Wilder.

However, when Joseph Parker outboxed a disappointing Wilder in December, Joshua’s team quickly pivoted to a fight with Francis Ngannou on March 8th. The opponent may have changed but after guiding Joshua to an impressive fifth round stoppage of Otto Wallin last time out, Davison isn’t taking the fight with the mixed martial artist any less seriously.

Ngannou, of course, came close to scoring one of the biggest shocks of all time last October when he dropped WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in the third round and pushed him to the wire before losing a split decision. Many have assumed that as well as Ngannou did in his professional boxing debut, he was helped by Fury wildly underestimating him. Davison doesn’t subscribe to that school of thought.

“I know Tyson, obviously. I’ve worked with him,” Davison said at the Joshua-Ngannou launch press conference this week. “He’s a very professional athlete. He takes his job very seriously. He would have prepared properly for Ngannou. Now, mentally sometimes it’s hard to put yourself in that position where you fully have respect for the opponent. Even though you’re trying to do all the right things, sometimes that’s not there. Only he can answer those questions, but Ngannou shocked all of us and I think he’s a very credible opponent.”

The relationship between a fighter and their trainer is the most important in boxing. There are times when trainers have to ask their fighters to do unnatural things in the ring and when they get off their stool and head back into battle, the boxer needs to do so with total belief that the man on the other side of the ropes has given them the right instructions. For Davison, that bond is the most important thing to have emerged from the relatively short amount of time he and Joshua have spent working together.

“I can’t speak for him but my experience is [that he’s] extremely coachable,” he said. “I feel like trust got built to a certain point where I needed it to be just before the Otto Wallin fight. There was a few things before going into the fight where I was extremely confident that that trust was there. Now, each fight is different and you have to keep building on that but I think that the way we coach suits the type of character that he is.”

Davison and his assistant, Lee Wylie, are renowned for forensically breaking down fighters but when somebody of Joshua’s caliber walks through the gym door it is a case of simplifying matters and reminding them what they are good at. Joshua doesn’t need to be shown how to throw a jab or a right hand to the body but he can be shown when to throw them and told why he is doing so. Having spent a long time seemingly caught between styles and unsure of himself, Joshua looked confident and relaxed against Wallin.

“People were going, ‘Ben’s rejuvenated A.J.’ It’s a load of nonsense,” Davison said. “He’s an Olympic gold medalist. Those are the skills he’s always had. All that we’ve done is helped him to understand, ‘These are the tools you’ve got that we think will work for that job and these are the tools that you’ve got that we think will work for that job.’ That’s our job really. Lee Wylie says this about football. Pep Guardiola doesn’t tell Cristiano Ronaldo to kick the football a little bit more with this part of the foot. He teaches the team how to play in a system against another team and that’s what we do as coaches at this level.”


Spivey Cathy is a professional article writer who has gained extensive experience in the industry. Her work has appeared in esteemed publications such as BBC News and ABC. Currently, she is writing articles for, where she showcases her talent for captivating storytelling and technical expertise.


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