Paulie Malignaggi breaks down how Anthony Joshua knocked out Francis Ngannou

Paulie Malignaggi says Anthony Joshua showed there are levels to boxing.

On Friday night, Joshua faced Francis Ngannou in a 10-round heavyweight boxing match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It only lasted for two, though, as Joshua trounced the former UFC heavyweight champion, dropping him twice before knocking him out cold in just the second round.

Heading into the bout, many gave Ngannou a real chance to upset Joshua. Malignaggi was not one, and now that’s it’s over, he said the fight played out much like he thought it would.

“Going into this fight, there were some people thinking that the power of Francis Ngannou was going to be problematic,” Malignaggi said on his YouTube channel. “Listen, a guy who is that strong is always kind of problematic. I think the momentum for Francis Ngannou came from his performance against Tyson Fury. I think, though, that let the cat out of the bag. Everybody realized, OK, Francis Ngannou is somebody to be taken a bit more seriously than the average bear, than the average guy who comes over from MMA to be a punching bag. He was actually somebody who made the proper adjustments in boxing, and demanded that kind of respect. …

“But still, my bottom line going into this fight was, even if he has all the basics down pat — and he had the basics down better than other MMA fighters who came to boxing, especially in the footwork department — it still was the basics. So a guy with a little bit more versatility, to his style, a guy with different layers to his style, a guy who was going to bring in those different layers to a fight was still going to confuse him. Because once the fight got not basic, there was nothing Francis Ngannou was really going to be able to do, except hope to get lucky with a lucky punch.”

Malignaggi knows a little something about boxing. A two-weight world champion with an overall record of 36-8, “Magic Man” has spent much of the past few years in an analyst role with the sport, and he gave an in-depth breakdown of exactly what Joshua did to dismantle Ngannou.

“You see Ngannou knows how to think in there, but he doesn’t have the experience necessary to know how to use even the things he wants so use,” Malignaggi said. “He’s always going to be basic. Joshua using those level changes, rhythm changes, jabbing upstairs, jabbing downstairs, using those feints with the feet, with the shoulders, jabbing off the jab, not jabbing off the jab, doubling up the jab. He went through the entire repertoire of knowing how to lead with his left hand very, very well. …

“That lead hand was able to set up the power, it took away all the confidence of Ngannou, it took away Ngannou’s ability to get into any kind of rhythm and get into any kind of power comfort where he would be able to be comfortable throwing his power shots and make Joshua uncomfortable. That’s kind of the difference here, with the layers in boxers. A solid boxer in a boxing ring is going to have all those layers where a guy who is not fully focusing on boxing his whole life is not going to have.”

But despite the one-sided nature of the matchup, Malignaggi isn’t all the way out on Ngannou as a boxer. The former WBA welterweight champion gave “The Predator” his flowers, but suggested that a step back in competition is in order if he wants to continue in the sweet science.

“I think Ngannou has a lot of ability,” Malignaggi said. “I think if Ngannou had focused on boxing his whole career he may have gone places. He went the MMA route and that’s fine, he had a terrific MMA career.

“Ngannou, even if he stays in boxing, I think he’d have to take a step back, take on a top-20, top-25 guy. Which is still ahead of the curve considering this would only be his third pro fight. But going against two of the top three heavyweights in the world … that’s kind of a hard place to start.”