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Coach: Francis Ngannou should fight Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder next year

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-Ngannou vs Hamilton Michael Adamucci-USA TODAY Sports

Francis Ngannou is quickly becoming one of the fastest rising stars in mixed martial arts (MMA). After recently destroying Alistair Overeem with one punch at UFC 218 earlier this month, Ngannou has locked down an upcoming title fight with UFC champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 on Jan. 20 in Boston.

With the sort of one-punch knockout power that comes along once every decade, “Predator” has the potential to be a global rockstar. So much so that Ngannou’s head coach, combat veteran Dewey Cooper, believes that the 31-year-old heavyweight contender should test his luck in the world of professional boxing.

“He has punching power,” Cooper said to MMAjunkie. “Anyone that has that equalizer will fare well. If he spends more time and takes it seriously, trains hard, he could be a champ in boxing also.”

Cooper isn’t just talking his fighter up. The MMA head coach has also trained WBO welterweight boxing champion Jessie Vargas in the past. He’s been around combat sports for years and seemingly sees something in Ngannou that other MMA fighters don’t possess.

“Everyone was so enthralled about the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight,” Cooper added. “I’d like to see Francis about one year from now fight whoever the heavyweight champion is, whether it be Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua. That would be a real fight, where an MMA fighter could go in there and upset a current boxing champion.”

While we’ve seen the difference in striking expertise between professional boxers and MMA fighters in the past, Ngannou has looked like he’s in a league of his own. When it comes to heavyweight, punching power is sometimes all you need. Ngannou has plenty of that, accompanied with precision, patience, and surprising speed, so it’s plausible that he may be able to disrupt the undefeated streaks of either Joshua or Wilder.

However, Ngannou’s boxing aspirations are completely on hold at this moment considering the knockout artist is gearing up for his first UFC title fight. And considering Miocic is a well-rounded champion who has utilized his boxing and wrestling to tie the UFC heavyweight record for most consecutive title defenses (2), Ngannou better keep his focus and expand his game over the next two months.