Francis Ngannou has cast doubt on Anthony Joshua’s chances of fighting Deontay Wilder by revealing his own talks with the hard-hitting heavyweight.
Joshua and Wilder will face separate opponents in Saudi Arabia on December 23 with the winners expected to clash next year – if Ngannou doesn’t get there first.
Ngannou shocked the boxing world by dropping Tyson Fury in their clash in October before losing the fight on points in the Middle East. He now looks set to pursue a career in both boxing and MMA – and believes he could secure a mixed-rules fight with Wilder in 2024.
“I prefer to fight only the top fighters,” Ngannou told the Last Stand podcast. “Why did I fight Tyson Fury? Because he is the top of the game, I wanted to get in there at the top and I want the best. I want the big fights, the big show. I want everything big. At the end of the day, it is a sport, we do what we have to do.
“The conversation of a mixed rules fight with Deontay Wilder is true, because even before this fight [against Tyson Fury], we have been having discussions.”
Ngannou has yet to confirm whether his next fight will be in the ring or the cage, but will be watching intently on December 23 when Joshua takes on Otto Wallin and Wilder faces Joseph Parker. The rivals will likely face off afterwards, assuming they win their respective fights in Riyadh.
A clash between Joshua and Wilder has long been mooted but a deal to stage the bout this year fell through. The Saudis had intended to host Tyson Fury’s undisputed clash with Oleksandr Usyk two days before Christmas but that bout has been delayed until February 17, forcing the last-minute assembly of an alternative card.
And former world champion Joshua is confident he can beat Wallin and return to the biggest stage. “I’m looking forward to delivering my message to Otto Wallin on December 23,” he said. “I can’t predict the future but I know what I want to do. I believe I’m going to be three-time heavyweight champion and the first step is to put a demolition job on Otto Wallin.
“It’s going to be a really good time to go to Saudi. It’s going to be big, we haven’t seen a card like this before. This is not a one-stop shop. This is a vision, this is my first stop and I will deliver the message. I’m determined to win and get back to my peak.”