Anthony Joshua to face former UFC star Francis Ngannou in next fight

Anthony Joshua taunts during the Heavyweight fight between Anthony Joshua and Otto Wallin during the Day of Reckoning: Fight Night at Kingdom Arena on December 23, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Joshua will hope to fight for a world title later this year - Getty Images/Richard Pelham

Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be later this year against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, the Briton’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed on Friday night via social media as the heavyweight ‘super league’ continues to grow under the backing of Saudi Arabia.

The fight is scheduled to take place in the Saudi Arabian capital as part of Riyadh Season with the exact date to be announced on Jan 15 at a news conference in London. It is expected to be in March.

“Tonight we can confirm it’s a done deal. Press conference Jan 15 with full details dropping soon,” wrote Hearn.

British fighter Joshua, the two-time heavyweight world champion, was impressive in defeating opponent Sweden’s Otto Wallin on December 23 in five impressive, dominant rounds, but had signed to meet long-term rival in former world champion Deontay Wilder, a match-up that had been talked about for five years.

However, that was torpedoed after the American lost to New Zealand’s Joseph Parker on the same card in Riyadh. Joshua will face Ngannou in a 10-round fight after the Cameroonian-born fighter shocked the world with an impressive performance against Tyson Fury in October, where he lost on points but knocked the WBC champion down in the third round.

Ngannou gave Fury problems when they met in October
Ngannou gave Fury problems when they met in October - Getty Images/Justin Setterfield

Ngannou, who may still return to mixed martial arts, now looks set to be a fixture in fights in Saudi Arabia.

Fury will contest the undisputed heavyweight title on Feb 17 against Oleksandr Usyk, also in Riyadh, and if Joshua defeats Ngannou it is likely that he will once again fight for a version of the world title this summer, most likely against Filip Hrgovic, No 1 with the IBF sanctioning body.

With the heavyweight division now on the move, and with fights being signed with alacrity, victories for Fury and Joshua through the early parts of the year set up the prospect of the two Britons fighting in the next twelve months. 

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