Anthony Joshua is slated to fight again in March of this year, and his opponent has just been ‘confirmed’ by the man behind boxing in Saudi Arabia, Turki Alalshikh.
Joshua signed off 2023 with a statement win over Otto Wallin. Many felt the fifth round stoppage was the Brit at the best he’s been in some time, and therefore excitement is growing for what he has planned this year.
While a fight, potentially for a vacant world title, against Filip Hrgovic was seen to be the frontrunner, combat sports journalist Ariel Helwani now reports that ‘AJ’ facing Francis Ngannou is now a done deal.
“Massive breaking news on this Friday evening for the world of combat sports. I have confirmed via Mr Turki Alalshikh that it is a done deal. It is going down. Francis Ngannou, Le Predator, the former UFC Heavyweight Champion, is returning to Riyadh Saudi Arabia.
Of course, just a few months removed from his incredible performance against Tyson Fury. After an unbelievable year when he leaves the UFC, signs with PFL and gets the big Tyson fight and shocks everyone.
He is returning to action in a boxing match later on this year to go up against the former heavyweight champion, the man who had an incredible 2023 in his own right, the man who just won at Day of Reckoning in Riyadh. The one and only AJ – Anthony Joshua. It is a done deal on both ends. Anthony Joshua versus Francis Ngannou. Ten round fight. Later on this year in Riyadh.
I have confirmed this via Mr Turki Alalshikh and my own sources. There is going to be a press conference I’m told later on this month in London to officially announce the date. But it is going down. It is done. Francis versus AJ.”
Ngannou’s first boxing contest was just months ago, but it was the performance that landed him this opportunity.
Entering the ring against the undefeated Tyson Fury, the MMA man was given little to no chance by pundits. Flipping the script, he knocked ‘The Gypsy King’ down in the third round and lost out on a close split decision over ten.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn said post-fight that his man would beat Ngannou handily, and now fans are set to find out. Following the initial report, he confirmed the news on X.
It seems now that the tentative plan will be Ngannou on March 9 and – assuming a victory – Hrgovic to follow in late summer once the IBF has officially made the decision to strip the winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk given he won’t be able to fulfill his strict mandatory challenge.