In a surprising turn of events, British heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua is set to face former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in a highly anticipated contest scheduled for 8 March in Saudi Arabia. Initially considering the matchup as a "gimmick fight," Joshua, aged 34, will step into the ring against the 37-year-old Ngannou, who made his professional boxing debut in October, impressively knocking down Tyson Fury before narrowly losing by decision.
The unexpected clash between Joshua and Ngannou adds another layer of intrigue to the heavyweight scene. Ngannou's transition from UFC to professional boxing last year captured attention, especially after he sent the undefeated Fury to the canvas with a left hook. Despite Fury recovering to win the 10-round bout, Ngannou's entry into the boxing world has been met with considerable anticipation.
As Joshua prepares for his upcoming bout with Ngannou, he is concurrently gearing up for a crucial fight against Oleksandr Usyk on 17 February. The outcome of the Usyk fight will determine who gets the opportunity to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 1999, with Fury currently holding the WBC title and Usyk holding the WBA, WBO, and IBF belts.
Originally planning to host Joshua against Deontay Wilder on 9 March, Saudi organizers had to recalibrate after Wilder's points defeat by Joseph Parker in December. Joshua's knockout victory against Otto Wallin on the same card further fueled the determination to secure a compelling bout for the Watford fighter on the originally planned weekend, avoiding a clash with the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix scheduled for Saturday, 9 March. The heavyweight clash between Joshua and Ngannou promises to be an electrifying event, adding significant intrigue to the boxing landscape.