Boxing

Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua set for 10-round boxing fight in Saudi Arabia

Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua set for 10-round boxing fight in Saudi Arabia

Francis Ngannou booked another big fight. This time, against Anthony Joshua. (REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri)

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is headed back to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for another major boxing match.

He's set to fight two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed Friday. The 10-round heavyweight fight was first reported by Ariel Helwani, who cited Saudi Arabia’s chairman of general authority for entertainment Turki Alalshikh.

It will take place on March 9, per Helwani and ESPN's Mike Coppinger.

For Ngannou (0-1), the bout is another opportunity to prove that his exit from the UFC in early 2023 was a good move. He already did the seemingly unlikely when he secured a big ticket boxing matchup against Tyson Fury, which he lost by split decision in Riyadh on Oct. 28.

But even as the -1400 favorite against Ngannou, Fury said he was taking the fight seriously. Fury, the WBC and lineal heavyweight boxing champion, was smart to do so. Ngannou looked competitive in the contest and turned some heads when he dropped Fury in the third round. When all was said and done, some fans went as far as claiming Ngannou won the fight.

It was a win-win scenario on Ngannou's side, resulting in the biggest payday of his career. The success came after he was scrutinized for leaving the UFC to sign with the Professional Fighters League despite an offer that UFC president Dana White said would've made him the highest-paid heavyweight in the promotion's history.

Now, Ngannou is cashing in again as a boxer and he appears to be excited about the next step in his career transition.

While he was quick to post on social media about the news, Joshua has yet to acknowledge it.

Joshua will be required to talk about the fight soon but he'll have the benefit of promoting it on his home turf. A news conference is scheduled for Jan. 15 in London, according to Hearn.

Joshua recently beat Otto Wallin on Dec. 23. The U.K. star made the fight look easy, forcing Wallin's corner to throw in the towel after the fifth round. It was Joshua's third consecutive win, and he'll look to continue that streak against Ngannou. Of his 27 career victories, 24 of them have been by knockout.

Joshua was reportedly scheduled to face Deontay Wilder in March instead of Ngannou but the matchup was spoiled when Wilder was upset by Joseph Parker last month.

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