Could it be that we’ll finally see Francis Ngannou take on a top tier heavyweight boxer? The former UFC champion made it clear that a major part of the several core sticking points in his protracted contract negotiations with the world’s largest MMA organization was the ability to take a fight in the boxing ring. Dana White & Co. weren’t interested, but the PFL was. Now that Francis Ngannou has a new place to ply his trade, he’s on the hunt for a chance to test his mettle in the ring.
To that end, it seems like Francis Ngannou may just have a taker as well. And not just for a one-off boxing superfight, but for a two-fight series with one bout in the ring and another in the PFL cage. The man who claims he wants to do it? None other than former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.
Deontay Wilder having ‘real conversation’ with Francis Ngannou
Wilder was on hand for the latest PFL event in Atlanta, GA, where he spent some time talking to reporters about his future. A future that very well could include a bout with Francis Ngannou. Wilder wasn’t 100% willing to commit to anything—unsurprising given the typical difficulty of making high stakes boxing bouts—but he was surprisingly open to the idea of not just boxing the Xtreme Couture talent, but to fighting him in MMA as well.
“At that specific date [in December], I’m not sure, but all things and anything are possible,” Wilder told MMA Fighting, referencing potential plans for a bout against Anthony Joshua. “Me and Francis have had discussions, we had meetings with both parties, as far as the team is concerned. So this is a real conversation that has been taking place, not only just amongst the combat … family, but amongst the teams as well, getting on the phone, everybody talking.
“So this is something that can truly happen to him. So the best is yet to come overall. There’s so many things that I could say, so many things that I can try to put in words to say, but at the end of the day, we’ll see what happens when it happens. That’s the best way I can give people a peace of mind. These things are in discussion, but we’ll see what happens and when it happens, it’s gonna be amazing.”
“Hey Francis, you listening?” Wilder said during a promo spot on the PFL broadcast. “We discussed this before, and we’ve got many space and opportunity to discuss it once more. I’m looking for a two-fight [deal] crossing over.”
It’s a pitch Wilder has made before. But somehow, actually seeing him there at a PFL event, and knowing that the promotion is interested in splashing out to try and make bigger fights happen, all makes the idea of a Francis Ngannou bout feel a bit more real.
Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua plans
It isn’t just Francis Ngannou though, as Deontay Wilder is still targeting a fight against former WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO champion Anthony Joshua. Joshua first lost his titles in 2019 in a massive upset to Andy Ruiz Jr. He won the belts back in a rematch, later that same year, however, and defended them in 2020 against Kubrat Pulev. That led straight to a pair of bouts with Ukranian sensation Oleksandr Usyk for the British boxing star. Joshua dropped both bouts by decision.
Despite a bounceback win over Jermaine Franklin, that does make this a somewhat unfortunate time to book Wilder vs. Joshua. That’s considering, as of 2023, that neither man would be in possession of nor competing for a major piece of boxing hardware for the first time since 2015. The former WBC champion, Wilder lost his belts in a pair of bouts against Tyson Fury in 2020-21. He has since bounced back against Robert Helenius in October of last year.
“Most definitely,” Wilder said, when asked if he truly had his next bout 99% ready to sign. “It’s a lot of different things going on, different discussions, lot of different meetings and agreements. Also just some boxing stuff. We do got a fight, coming up at the end of the year, which is about done. But something can be 99% finished, but that 1% in boxing can be crucial.”
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