Anthony Joshua To Face Francis Ngannou In Saudi Arabia Bout
On March 8, less than three months after stopping Otto Wallin in the Middle East to rekindle his career, Anthony Joshua will face former UFC heavyweight world champion Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia.
Last year, Ngannou(17-3-0, 12KOs) nearly took the boxing champion by surprise by dropping him before losing by a slim margin of points.
Joshua(27-3, 24KOs) a 34-year old boxer from England is most likely to defeat Ngannou an MMA fighter from Cameroon, who is fighting in his second professional boxing match. Furthermore, the final undefeated heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis, has forewarned the former two-time champion that he will not get any insight from the bout.
“IMO, this fight adds ZERO credibility to AJ’s resume,” wrote Lennox Lewis on social media.
“He’s SUPPOSED to win this fight and when he does, what does he gain or learn by beating someone in his second heavyweight fight? If he loses, than it’s an absolute disaster. The same stood for Fury and it almost cost him everything,” he added.
“Listen in to yesterday.. the winner fights the winner of Fury vs Usyk for undisputed and when AJ joins your club I know you will be delighted for him,” said Eddie Hearn Joshua’s promoter responding to Lewis.
Hearn was making reference to Joshua’s chance to challenge Ngannou for the undisputed title, which Joshua may acquire if he defeats the Ngannou from Saudi Arabia.
The first such champion since Lewis in 1999 will be crowned on February 17th, when Fury and Oleksandr Usyk square off. Since Filip Hrgovic has been Usyk’s mandatory challenger to the IBF title for a long time, it was believed that the belts would split immediately. Hearn, though, is optimistic that Joshua will get his chance.
As the Saudi organizers get ready to wrap up Riyadh Season with another heavyweight bout, fighting Ngannou can keep Joshua motivated. Organizing massive athletic events has cost Saudi Arabia millions of dollars, and some argue that this unprecedented spending is meant to boost its reputation abroad and draw attention away from its violations of human rights and environmental degradation.
“Claims of ‘sportswashing’ are “very shallow,” and the investment is boosting the country’s economy, opening it up to tourism and inspiring people to be more active,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal Saudi Arabia’s sports minister.
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