Some major breaking news this afternoon in the boxing and combat sports world. Ariel Helwani was the first to report this afternoon that former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (17-3 MMA) will take on former boxing world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua (27-3).
The matchup will take place on March 9th in Saudi Arabia. Starting with Anthony Joshua, he will be looking to win his fourth straight matchup. Joshua lost back-to-back fights against heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022 in world title fights. Since then, he’s been unbeaten.
Most recently, Joshua faced Otto Wallin in Saudi Arabia and completely destroyed him. The corner stopped the fight giving AJ the TKO victory. Joshua had an agreement in place to fight Deontay Wilder who also fought on the same night. However, Wilder fumbled the bag there by losing a lopsided decision. Following Wilder’s one-sided loss, the boxing match with Ngannou came together.
Boxing Matchup Set
Francis Ngannou left the UFC as heavyweight champion just about a year ago. People thought he was crazy for wanting huge boxing matchups like one against the likes of Tyson Fury. However, Ngannou was set on getting those type of fights and he went out and tested the free agent market.
Ngannou signed with the PFL last year, however, the PFL allows Ngannou to pursue his dreams in boxing. Following the PFL deal, Ngannou signed to fight Tyson Fury back in October. While Ngannou was UFC heavyweight champion, nobody gave him a shot in a boxing matchup against Tyson Fury.
Boy, were we all wrong. Ngannou took it to Fury and even dropped the Gypsy King in their matchup. Personally, I scored the fight for Ngannou, although it was very close. Fury ultimately won the split decision, but Ngannou made his way into the WBC top ten rankings off that performance.
Now, Ngannou has his second premier boxing matchup against a former world champion. He’ll be a big underdog in this matchup, but should he win, it’s not out of this world to think that he might be facing the winner of the Fury – Usyk fight sometime in late 2024. If all the stars align, Francis Ngannou could become a world champion in boxing.