Francis Ngannou walked out of his boxing debut against Tyson Fury with his head held high and a world of opportunity seemingly laid out at his feet. Sure, he didn’t beat Fury on the judges scorecards, but in the minds many fans and pundits, he won the day.
In the few days since that bout, all the talk has been about what might possibly be next for the ‘Predator’. When will he fight again? Against who? In what sport?
Francis Ngannou’s manager teases next fight
At the moment, it seems almost inconceivable that Francis Ngannou’s next fight would take place in the PFL or in the sport of MMA. He potentially just lobbed a bomb into the middle of the heavyweight boxing top contender scene, it’d be madness not to try and follow that path.
While his manager, Marquel Martin wasn’t willing to rule out a ‘hybrid’ bout or PFL debut, the shortlist of next opponents he had for Ngannou certainly seemed to lean heavy toward boxing rather than MMA.
“I think we see him again Q1 of [next] year. Whether that’s with his partners in PFL or a hybrid [fight] of some sort,” Martin said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I think all options are on the table, and it’s really going to be exciting of: who wants to really fight him now? It’s not so much Francis chasing anymore, which is a good situation to be in.”
When prompted about Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua, Martin confrimed that was essentially the shortlist.
“Those are some of the options that we’ve been discussing for a long time,” Martin revealed. “I think what kind of emerged as of late was Anthony Joshua, right? We’ve had the conversations with Deontay. And obviously Tyson’s there, but now Joshua can be a potential suitor. Obviously, Eddie Hearn, I have a ton of respect for him as a promoter and he does a great job. He thinks that Anthony Joshua can can make light work of Francis. Actually, the team, we were hoping before the Tyson Fury stuff ever came up—came to be about—we’re hoping that we got a chance to fight Anthony Joshua.”
Martin went on to describe the various pros and cons for each bout. To his own personal preference, though, it seems like he wants to see Francis Ngannou take on Deontay Wilder in the PFL.
“I would love to see Deontay come into MMA and test his hand in a mixed rules [fight], right?” Martin explained. “And then that would set up that kind of narrative, just so the world can see the difference between the two. That’s why I like to show it from a standpoint of, like, I don’t think MMA fighters get enough credit for what they do in the world of combat sports. So I’d love to see that, right? And then knowing that Tyson has his fight with Usyk, afterward there’s going to be an opportunity to do the rematch.”
Francis Ngannou has his own ideas
As part of Martin’s conversation with Ariel Hewlani, he suggested that Francis Ngannou’s mind was 90% made up as to his next opponent. If that’s the case, then fans have no further to look than Ngannou’s recent TMZ interview to find out what’s on his mind. Along with revealing that he had no plans to appeal his loss to Fury, Ngannou made it clear that if there’s any one fight on his mind right now, it’s getting a rematch done ASAP.
“The rematch,” Ngannou said flatly when asked what his perfect next fight would be. “The rematch is what I want next the most. Because, as for right now I feel like there is a lot of options for me, but I want to choose wisely—and I would go for the rematch first.
“Going into the first one, there was a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty for boxing… Even going into the training camp there was a lot of unknown. But I think this fight—from the beginning of the camp up, leading up to the fight—I think that was a lot of experience that will definitely help me a lot for the second fight.”
“Listen, my best scenario in boxing is to wait for Fury,” Ngannou responded when asked if he would try to take on the winner of Fury vs. Usyk.
If Fury won’t be ready, Ngannou looking at MMA return
Surprisingly, while Francis Ngannou also revealed that he plans on fighting twice next year, with the first fight coming in February or March, he also sounded bullish on the idea that one of his bouts in 2024 would come inside the PFL cage. To hear the 37-year-old tell it, if Fury isn’t ready to go (which he won’t be given his plans to fight Usyk in February), then Ngannou plans on jumping back into MMA.
“If it doesn’t work,” Ngannou added, speaking of the timing of a Fury bout, “then I can still fight February or March in MMA, then expect him by the end of the year—like, this time, by October.”
Could just be that that Deontay Wilder MMA idea his manager was so hyped for is a very real plan B at the moment.
As for the potential of getting his first Fury fight result overturned? Despite the controversy surrounding the bout, Ngannou sounds like he hasn’t even been considering the idea.
“Who am I gonna appeal to? [The British Boxing Commission]?” Ngannou said when asked about trying to get the result of his fight overturned. “I have no chance. I think that’s just another way of humiliation.”
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