Joshua In Talks To Face Ngannou In March
Joshua’s confidence is riding high following his win over Otto Wallin. The heavyweight made Wallin’s team throw in the towel after round five. The victory was Joshua’s first under Ben Davidson. The fight card was accompanied by Deontay Wilder’s loss to Joseph Parker. That has ended a Wilder fight for now as Eddie Hearn outlined three names Joshua could face. Filip Hrgovic, Zhilei Zhang and Francis Ngannou are in the running to face Joshua.
Joshua’s Next Opponent
“Right now, we have three fights that we’re in discussions for, they’re all big. And that doesn’t involve Deontay Wilder. Before March, our aim, and we’ve discussed this, is to fight the winner of Fury versus Usyk. That is all we want to do. Obviously, there’s a Hrgovic fight out there for the world heavyweight title; there’s a Francis Ngannou fight out there, which would be absolutely colossal. There are other heavyweights as well; the Zhang fight possibly as well with Queensbury,” Hearn said
A fight with Hrgovic made the most sense since it aligns with Joshua’s desire to become a three-time world champion. The Croatian is the current IBF mandatory, while Joshua is just below him in the rankings. The winner of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk must defend against Hrgovic due to the IBF rules or be stripped.
Joshua Vs. Ngannou
Their rematch clause means the winner will likely get stripped, putting Joshua in a title fight. Zhang and Ngannou are seen as big risks since neither offer belts nor take Joshua a step closer to the world title. Zhang’s WBO interim belt still means the IBF will be called first. And yet, reports stress that Ngannou is under serious consideration.
“That is the talk [Joshua vs. Ngannou]. There’s a risk. We’ve seen now what Ngannou can do. I don’t think he’ll do too much different against AJ. Can AJ budge him if he fights him? Yes. Can Ngannou hurt AJ? Yes, so there’s jeopardy there. Personally, I’d rather see AJ fight Hrgovic next, but the amount of money on the table for [Joshua-Ngannou in Saudi Arabia].
“Ngannou is such a tease financially for any of them. It’ll be a ten round fight. I still think Ngannou will be dangerous for ten minutes, very dangerous in those first ten minutes because if he gets a foothold in the fight, as he did against Fury, he’s going to do damage,” Gareth A. Davies said
One reason for taking the fight could be that it sets up the Hrgovic bout for the summer. That gives Joshua plenty of time to prepare for Hrgovic, especially if the fight with the Croatian cannot be made in March. But Ngannou has shown in the Tyson Fury fight that he can be dangerous. That is something Joshua will need to guard against.
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