Francis Ngannou hints at boxer he wants to face before PFL debut

Francis Ngannou has a name in mind for his boxing debut.

By: Kristen King | 2 weeks ago
Francis Ngannou hints at boxer he wants to face before PFL debut
Francis Ngannou during a promotional video for Professional Fighters League (PFL) | IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Francis Ngannou is headed to the Professional Fighters League (PFL) after signing an exclusive multi-fight agreement with the promotion. However, the ‘Predator’ is not expected in the SmartCage until 2024, so what is he going to do now? Pursue boxing

Since splitting with the UFC this past January, Ngannou has said he would shift his focus from mixed martial arts to boxing. And with the newfound freedom to do so as one of the terms of his agreement with PFL, the Cameroonian has started discussing options for a potential opponent in his boxing debut. Of course, there was discussion regarding Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, the latter of whom proposed a hybrid fight with Ngannou ‘in a cage, [with] four-ounce gloves under Queensbury rules’.

Francis Ngannou suggests Anthony Joshua as opponent in boxing debut

Neither of those options came to fruition, so Ngannou has decided to pursue the next one: Anthony Joshua. During a recent interview on the DAZN MMA Show with Sean O’Connell and Dan Hardy, the former UFC heavyweight champion said AJ is a great option for an opponent.

“Of course [Anthony Joshua] is a potential opponent that we’ve been looking at,” said Ngannou. “It’s been Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. So far, we were only able to keep conversations with Deontay Wilder, but Anthony Joshua is a fight we like, too. 

“We spoke with Eddie [Hearn] once, but that was when Joshua was about to fight [Jermaine] Franklin,” continued Ngannou. “I think if we bring this to Africa, it would be massive…I think it is something that would get him excited, too. To fight in the continent.”  

Eddie Hearn discusses Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua

This past April, Eddie Hearn discussed a potential fight with Ngannou and Joshua during an appearance on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Though he sees his Matchroom Sport boxer defeating Ngannou, he is open to having them meet in the ring. 

“You cannot in a million years, with Francis Ngannou’s ability in boxing and pedigree in boxing, go in and compete technically, skill-wise — not just with AJ, but with any top-20 heavyweight in the world,” said Hearn. “But in that division, the difference is, what you can do is you could knock someone out. So it doesn’t matter whether Francis fights Anthony Joshua — Tyson Fury, I agree with you, horrible fight for Francis Ngannou because he’d he just poke [Ngannou] around — Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte, Derek Chisora, Jermaine Franklin; he has no chance against those guys, other than to be aggressive, trade up, and catch someone clean and take him out.

“So I think that you are correct in your statement, in that, people would give fighters a much better chance against AJ having watched that performance [against Franklin]. In your world, that translates to Francis Ngannou. And why not? I don’t feel like it’s a fight that’s going to continue the development of Anthony Joshua under his new trainer, but I’d done lunch with Francis Ngannou. You know his story. I was completely gobsmacked by the story of this man. We sat for two hours, and I was just listening to just the most remarkable — I mean, how this isn’t a film, I have no idea. Unbelievable.”

That said, with his win against Franklin, Joshua is now reportedly in the works for a fight with Deontay Wilder near the end of the year, so Ngannou may have to move on to another option. 

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About the author
Kristen King
Kristen King

Kristen King is a writer for Bloody Elbow. She has covered combat sports since 2016, getting her start with outlets such as FanSided, MyMMANews and MMA-Prospects. She joined the BE team in 2020, covering a mix of news, events and injuries. In her time with BE, Kristen has created ‘Fright of the Night,’ a series that highlights some of the worst injuries in the sport.

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