Five months after Francis Ngannou performed heroics and pushed the lacklustre Tyson Fury to the brink before losing a split decision, the Cameroonian is back in Saudi Arabia and ready for an explosive showdown with Anthony Joshua

For all of Ngannou’s incredible physical attributes, he may have lost the one component that made him so dangerous last October – the element of surprise.

Having been the fighter to beat for so long during his career as a mixed martial artist, he handled the role of underdog admirably before his fight with Fury. Things are different this time around, but the 37 year old seems extremely comfortable with the new burden of expectation.

“I don't know how much – maybe 20 percent?” Ngannou laughed when asked by Sky Sports how much he has improved since sharing the ring with Fury.

“That was the night that I made an assessment. Now, the question is to maintain that and even go higher because now I have expectation on me. Before, there wasn't any expectation. Before that night nobody was expecting anything about me. Now they are expecting.”

Ngannou still insists that he will continue to compete in MMA but his remarkable performance against Fury all but ensured that boxing would continue to monopolise his time for the foreseeable future.

Fury’s scheduled undisputed heavyweight title fight with Oleksandr Usyk ruled out an immediate rematch, and with Joshua and Deontay Wilder seemingly committed to a two-fight deal, Ngannou was left without an eye-catching opponent. 

Joseph Parker’s shock victory over Wilder last December changed the heavyweight landscape dramatically, and Ngannou had no hesitation in taking the American’s place against Joshua, 34.

Ngannou had always imagined fighting the Londoner; the chance has just come a little earlier than he anticipated. 

“He’s one of the greats,” Ngannou said. “One of the best fighters out there. I always said that whenever I get into boxing it's going to be three names. Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

“Oleksandr Usyk is adding himself on the list.”

The fight between Joshua and Ngannou has been christened "Knockout Chaos”.

Joshua has historically adopted a ruthless, aggressive attitude against fighters he doesn’t believe are on his level, and as well as Ngannou did against Fury, he is still a boxing novice. Joshua is an Olympic champion and a two-time unified heavyweight champion who appears to have rediscovered his confidence.

Whether observers believe the study that crowned Ngannou as the hardest puncher on the planet, he is extremely heavy handed, and having dropped Fury he will be very confident that he possesses the power to not only send Joshua to the canvas, but to keep him there.

Ngannou’s heavyweight adventure has been a gamble. If and when Joshua does hurt him, don’t expect the Cameroonian to fold.

“Knockout Chaos” therefore seems an appropriate billing. All signs point to somebody getting knocked out on Friday night.

“Possibly – I'm really hoping on that,” Ngannou said. “I don't really like to count on the knockout because a knockout is something that comes. Even though most people have described me as a knockout artist, I never really walk in there to knock somebody out. It comes. If you leave your chin in the way, then I knock you out.”