Joshua And Ngannou Agree To Fight In March
The fight comes after reports that Eddie Hearn had three names in the conversation for Joshua. Ngannou, Filip Hrgovic and Zhilei Zhang. A fight against the IBF interim champion, Hrgovic, may have been for the full belt. The winner of Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk must face Hrgovic, but their rematch clause means the winner will likely get stripped.
Joshua Vs. Ngannou
A fight with Zhang could have given Joshua the WBO interim title. But since the IBF is in line to be called first, facing the Chinese does not make sense. Taking on Ngannou makes commercial sense and gives Joshua some much-needed activity. After his win over Otto Wallin, Joshua hoped to fight three times this year like he had done in 2023. A fight in March fits that bill.
The fight also gives Ngannou his second boxing bout. His performance against Fury earned him much praise even if he lost via a split decision. He sent the WBC heavyweight champion to the canvas in the third round and troubled Fury until the final bell. The decision was called out by some feeling Ngannou had been robbed. Following the performance, he earned himself a WBC top-ten ranking with the chance to make another big purse and prove his doubters wrong.
De La Hoya On Joshua-Ngannou
“I heard Dana White say something about, ‘These MMA fighters are not making more money in boxing,’ and all I can do is laugh. Are you kidding me? Why do you think MMA fighters are going into boxing and crossing over? For the payday.
“That’s it, that’s the bottom line, and to test them, which is admirable because an MMA fighter going into the ring to face an elite fighter not only takes courage, but you have to believe in yourself and your skill. That’s admirable.
“But when Dana White says they’re not making more money. Bull. They’re making tons of money inside the ring in boxing. That’s the bottom line. [And] that’s why you’re seeing Joshua with Ngannou. That’s why you’re seeing this other kid with pink hair calling out. These guys are warriors, man. Calling out guys like that. It takes courage,” De La Hoya said
And yet, there are still some questions over Ngannou’s MMA career. Under his PFL deal, he is expected to fight in MMA this year. His last MMA bout was in the UFC when he beat Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. That was back in 2022, suggesting that Ngannou’s long-term future may be in boxing.
Undoubtedly, the former UFC heavyweight champion is making more money in the sport than he would in MMA. That will only increase if he can pull off a win against Joshua. He earned his highest-ever purse against Fury, and the Joshua fight will undoubtedly be another big sum.
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