Heavyweight legend Lennox Lewis spoke out after the launch of Anthony Joshua’s showdown with Francis Ngannou, declaring the fight as a ‘spectacle’ and insinuating that the bout is money-motivated rather than a true heavyweight battle. Now, Matchroom Promoter, Eddie Hearn has responded to the suggestion and defended the event.
Joshua was expected to face Filip Hrgovic for the possibly vacant IBF title once a new undisputed champion is crowned in the upcoming Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk clash.
However, ‘AJ’ and Hearn instead opted to take on Ngannou in an attempt to outshine the below-par performance of Fury, who had a close shave against the former UFC superstar when they met in October, edging a split-decision win after being knocked down in the third round of the fight.
The most recent undisputed heavyweight champion, Lewis, took to social media to label the Saudi card as a spectacle as opposed to a high-profile and high-skill boxing contest, but admitted that this was more due to the modern heavyweight division rather than blaming those taking part.
“Ngannou’s fight with Tyson Fury was a spectacle. This fight with AJ is also a spectacle. Hats off to Ngannou for making the most of his opportunities. He’s done nothing wrong. This is just the HW division in the year 2024.”
In response, Hearn stood up for the show, pointing out that the winner of the match-up will challenge for the undisputed title.
“Listen in to yesterday[‘s press conference]. 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.”
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
Joshua-Ngannou takes place on Friday March 8 in Saudi Arabia as ‘Riyadh Season’ draws to a close, with an clear of aim of the Saudis to pit the winner against the winner of Fury-Usyk.