Talks Underway For Joshua Vs. Ngannou; Ngannou Reflects On His UFC Departure

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou are allegedly in negotiations for a fight on March 16, 2024, in Saudi Arabia. 

Joshua’s goal of becoming a three-time world champion became closer as he stopped Otto Wallin. Deontay Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker meant Joshua would likely fight the IBF interim champion Filip Hrgovic. That fight could be for the full title if the winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk goes ahead with their rematch and doesn’t face Hrgovic.

Eddie Hearn has also mentioned Ngannou and Zhilei Zhang. A win over Zhang gives AJ the WBO interim belt. But that mandatory won’t be called before the IBF, making the fight less attractive. Ngannou’s fight with Fury showed that it was a risky bout. He dropped the WBC heavyweight champion and took the fight to the final bell in a split-decision loss. But the financials in the fight may be too big to turn down. 

“That is the talk [Joshua vs. Ngannou]. There’s a risk. We’ve seen now what Ngannou can do. I don’t think he’ll do too much different against AJ. Can AJ budge him if he fights him? Yes. Can Ngannou hurt AJ? Yes, so there’s jeopardy there. Personally, I’d rather see AJ fight Hrgovic next, but the amount of money on the table for [Joshua-Ngannou in Saudi Arabia]. 

“Ngannou is such a tease financially for any of them. It’ll be a ten round fight. I still think Ngannou will be dangerous for ten minutes, very dangerous in those first ten minutes because if he gets a foothold in the fight, as he did against Fury, he’s going to do damage,” Gareth A. Davies said 

Ngannou’s UFC Departure

Ngannou recalled his decision to leave the UFC. He left the UFC after he rejected an $8 million contract, which prevented him from becoming an independent contractor, thus reducing his control. Dana White said he would never work with the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Ngannou was linked with One Championship, BKFC and the PFL. He signed with the PFL, giving him the chance to box. He faced Fury and secured over $10 million in his highest-ever purse. Ngannou looked back on his journey with many lessons learned. 

“This business can be nasty. You have people who pretend to be something that they are not. But it’s a good part of the learning process. Becoming a fighter and stepping into that position is something you are not educated about.

“Most fighters never get educated, and that’s why for the most part, fighters keep getting screwed. I’m lucky I got into the position where I had to learn that, and then comes the PFL with a great offer, a great contract and a great opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Ngannou said

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