The expectation was on Joshua to face Deontay Wilder, provided he beat Joseph Parker as a two-fight deal was in place. The Bronze Bomber came up short, losing a unanimous decision, ending any hopes of the fight. The next opponent was a choice between Ngannou, Zhilei Zhang and Filip Hrgovic.
Since they hold interim belts, a fight against Zhang and Hrgovic would have taken Joshua a step closer to a world title. Hrgovic has the IBF interim belt and is also with Matchroom, while Zhang has the WBO interim belt but has accused Eddie Hearn of keeping AJ away from him. As Lewis pointed out, the decision was made to face Ngannou at the expense of legacy.
IMO, this fight adds ZERO credibility to AJ’s resume. He’s SUPPOSED to win this fight and when he does, what does he gain or learn by beating someone in his second HW fight? If he loses, than it’s an absolute disaster. The same stood for Fury and it almost cost him everything. 🤦🏾♂️ https://t.co/t4cG5N7VmC
— Lennox Lewis, CBE, CM (@LennoxLewis) January 16, 2024
The justification for the Ngannou fight has been his sole performance against Tyson Fury. The former UFC Heavyweight Champion dropped Fury and went the distance, something which the majority never foresaw. Before the Fury-Ngannou fight, Hearn called it a complete mismatch, showing the quick turnaround. But the winner of Joshua-Ngannou will face the undisputed champion, Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk, as they square off on February 17, prompting Hearn to respond.
Listen in to yesterday..the winner fights the winner of Fury v Usyk for Undisputed and when AJ joins your club I know you will be delighted for him 😉 https://t.co/reAjQLZBoN
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) January 17, 2024
Great Insight Lennox! Bottom line? 💰
— Danny Zelaya דני (@therealdannyz) January 16, 2024
AJ not gonna make the same mistake as Fury.
I expect AJ to make Ngannou look like the boxing amateur he is #JoshuaNgannou
— TreasureBoxingClub (@TreasureBoxing) January 16, 2024
It's an easy money fight. He'll play it safe and the judges will give him the close rounds
— BryceTV (@Brycetv1) January 16, 2024