Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou ‘a done deal’ as Saudi Arabia’s boxing takeover continues


A boxing match between Anthony Joshua and former UFC champion Francis Ngannou is reportedly ‘a done deal’, as Saudi Arabia’s boxing takeover continues.

Combat-sports journalist Ariel Helwani reported the news on Friday (5 January), citing Turki Al-Sheikh – the Saudi adviser overseeing boxing in the region – who was quick to share Helwani’s announcement.

Joshua boxed in Riyadh in December, stopping Otto Wallin in the main event of a seismic fight card, two months after Ngannou made his professional boxing debut against Tyson Fury in the same city.

Mixed martial artist Ngannou, 37, lost a controversial decision to Fury after knocking down the WBC heavyweight champion, and he is now set to fight another Briton in Joshua.

According to Helwani, the fight will take place in Saudi Arabia later this year and will be scheduled for 10 rounds.

Joshua, 34, beat Wallin via fifth-round TKO after the Swede’s corner pulled him from the fight, marking “AJ”’s third win from as many bouts in 2023. That trio of victories has marked an emphatic response by Joshua to his back-to-back defeats by Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua’s second reign as unified heavyweight champion came to an end at the hands of Usyk in 2021, when the Ukrainian won via decision in London. The unbeaten Usyk also outpointed Joshua in 2022, in Saudi Arabia, to retain the belts.

Usyk has since signed to fight Fury, also unbeaten, in Riyadh in February, to crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion in 24 years. Fury’s WBC belt will be on the line – unlike in his bout with Ngannou – as will Usyk’s WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO titles.

Cameroonian Ngannou held the UFC heavyweight title from 2021 until 2022, before vacating the gold while leaving the UFC in 2023.

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