The news of the fight comes after Joshua’s impressive fifth-round stoppage of Otto Wallin. There was an expectation to fight Deontay Wilder after a two-fight deal was in place. But Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker ended hopes of that. A Joshua fight with Filip Hrgovic appeared the most likely since he is the IBF interim champion.
The bout could have been for the full title as Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk’s rematch clause meant the winner would be stripped if they did not face Hrgovic, leaving Joshua as the next-highest-ranked fighter in the IBF rankings. The fight has given Ngannou a huge opportunity to follow up on the Fury performance.
Anthony Joshua will fight Francis Ngannou in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, according to Turki Alalshikh and Eddie Hearn. The heavyweight fight will take place on March 9, sources told ESPN. Joshua was set to fight Deontay Wilder on that same date until Wilder was upset by Joseph Parker.
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) January 5, 2024
‼️ JOSHUA-NGANNOU ON A FRIDAY
The ten-round Heavyweight bout between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou will reportedly take place on Friday, March 8 in Saudi Arabia.
— EverythingBoxing (@EverythingBoxi2) January 5, 2024
Ngannou impressed on his boxing debut, dropping Fury in round three, as he lost a split decision. Despite the defeat, some in the boxing community felt he should have been given the decision. The performance earned him a top-ten WBC ranking, with a chance to prove that the Fury performance was not a one-off. But the announcement leaves question marks over Ngannou’s MMA future since he has not fought since beating Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.
Wilder vs. Zhang
There are also reports Deontay Wilder could face the WBO heavyweight interim champion, Zhilei Zhang, on the undercard. Wilder is looking to bounce back from his loss to Joseph Parker, while Zhang arrives into the fight with two consecutive knockouts of Joe Joyce. The winner becomes the WBO mandatory for the winner of Fury vs. Usyk.
‼️ Deontay Wilder and Zhilei Zhang reportedly could return on the undercard of Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou, which may in fact take place on Friday, March 8th. It’s claimed Wilder and Zhang could fight each other or appear in separate fights. [According to @SIChrisMannix]
— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) January 5, 2024
Ngannou wins by KO
— UTD_MNM 🇶🇦 🇵🇸 (@UTD_MNM) January 5, 2024
Can't wait for this fight
— Muhammed Ashraf 🔰🪄🇿🇦 (@LUHSJR) January 5, 2024
Should be a cracker this , Ngannou held his own against Tyson Fury 💪 🥊
— Raymond Hardie (@RHardie54) January 5, 2024