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Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou face off for first time ahead of heavyweight fight [VIDEO]

Anthony Joshua will face Francis Ngannou on March 8 in Saudi Arabia; the fight takes place three weeks after Tyson Fury takes on Oleksandr Usyk in an undisputed heavyweight title clash; promoter Frank Warren says the winners of the two bouts could face each other next.

The winner of Anthony Joshua’s fight with Francis Ngannou could challenge the victor of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk’s undisputed heavyweight title clash later this year, according to promoter Frank Warren.

Two-time heavyweight world champion Joshua on Monday had his bout with former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou confirmed for March 8 in Saudi Arabia, three weeks after WBO, IBF, and WBA belt-holder Usyk takes on WBC titlist Fury in Riyadh.

Most had expected that the undisputed clash would be followed by a rematch, but at Monday’s Joshua-Ngannou press conference in London, it was suggested the winners of the two fights could be matched next.

Turki Alalshikh of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, who has brokered a series of high-profile fights in Riyadh, said: “You will see the result of this match will connect about the result of the 17 February – this is our idea.”

Warren then added: “For the winner, the big fight’s happening on February 17, with Tyson and Usyk.

“The winner of that – would we like to see them with the winner of this fight? Everybody in boxing would love to see that.

“So everybody has got something to aim for. It’s huge a moment of excitement for boxing.”

Joshua: Being best in the UK more important than world titles
Having lost his titles to Usyk in 2021 before falling to a rematch defeat almost a year later, Joshua has rebuilt with three successive victories.

The most recent of which, a dominant stoppage victory over Otto Wallin in Saudi Arabia in December, reignited hopes the 34-year-old can become world champion for a third time.

However, in an apparent nod to his continued desire for an all-British contest with Fury, Joshua suggested becoming world champion again is not his biggest motivation.

“I’m not really too concerned about the world, I’m trying to conquer where I live,” he said. “I just want to conquer here and make everyone know I’m the one who puts boxing on the map.”

As for the challenge of Ngannou, Joshua believes the mental side of an “explosive” contest will be the key.

“He brings two arms, a body, like every other fighter does. It’s just his mind that’s different to everyone,” Joshua said.

“He’s seen people like me, I’ve seen people like him many times before, but it’s just his mind I have to conquer in the ring.

“You have to take someone’s soul, you have to take their spirit and I’m looking forward to the challenge for sure.

“It’s going to be good, it’s going to be explosive.

“There are many ways to skin a cat. I can counterpunch, he can counterpunch, we can both box, we can both trade. It’s going to be a good, good fight.”

Ngannou: I’ve heard AJ doesn’t have a chin
Aside from his losses to Usyk, both of which went the distance, the only other defeat of Joshua’s career came when he suffered a stunning knockout defeat to Andy Ruiz in 2019.

With Joshua having also been knocked down by Wladimir Klitschko in their 2017 epic, Ngannou reiterated doubts over the Brit’s ability to handle his power.

The Cameroonian fighter was hugely impressive on his professional boxing debut when he knocked down Fury in a tight defeat last year, and is looking to repeat the trick against Joshua.

“I’m going to fight him, so what do you think I’m going to do? I’m going to look for his chin,” he said.

“That’s what happens in the fight. In the fight you try to hit somebody in the chin or wherever you can hit them.

“And then, yes, I heard that he doesn’t have a chin. I don’t know if it’s true or not.

“We’re going to find out. I hope I have the opportunity to test that out, that’s my wish.”

 

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