Eddie Hearn says he reached out to Francis Ngannou’s team about Anthony Joshua fight: ‘Never heard back’
Anthony Joshua’s longtime promoter claims to have had plenty of interest in booking Joshua against Francis Ngannou after the former UFC heavyweight champion nearly defeated Tyson Fury in his professional boxing debut.
Unfortunately, according to Matchroom Sport headman Eddie Hearn, that interest went unrequited.
“I reached out to Francis Ngannou’s team and I said, ‘Just to let you know, we’re up for discussing the Francis Ngannou [vs.] AJ fight. I never heard back from them,” Hearn said Monday on The MMA Hour. “So I think probably, knowing the business, I would say that probably Fury-Ngannou is almost probably agreed to post Fury-[Oleksandr] Usyk already.
“[Ngannou will] feel like, after that first fight, he can beat Fury, but there’s no point [in boxing non-stars] — he can really lose to anybody in the top 50 at heavyweight, so you’ve got to cash in at this point, and there’s really only three fights that cash into the levels that he will want [Fury, Joshua, or Deontay Wilder]. So I’d guess, and you might know better, Francis Ngannou will fight in the PFL or wherever in spring, summer of 2024, and then he’ll fight Tyson Fury at the end of . I would think that would be the mindset of the team.”
“I think everyone knows it’s a two-fight deal with Fury-Usyk,” Hearn added, “and I would think that there’s probably one on the back end as well to rematch Ngannou.”
Ngannou, 37, nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in combat sports history this past October when he fought to a controversial split decision against Fury. Despite being a sizable betting underdog, Ngannou pushed Fury to his limits and even knocked down boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion in a performance that blew away the expectations of many and left boxing lifers such as Hearn and Carl Frampton singing his praises. Immediately following the bout, Hearn publicly lobbied for Joshua vs. Ngannou to be next, stating that he believed the matchup could be “one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport,” especially if it was held in in Africa, where both fighters have roots.
However, the fight never came together. Joshua instead signed to face Otto Wallin on the Day of Reckoning card in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 23., an event that features another of Ngannou’s potential opponents — Deontay Wilder — in a co-headlining bout against Joseph Parker. If Joshua and Wilder both emerge victorious, Hearn reiterated his hope on Monday that the long-awaited clash between Joshua and Wilder could be the next step.
Ngannou’s next move remains uncertain, however Fury is set to face WBA, WBO, and IBF heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk in a much-anticipated title unification bout on Feb. 17.
While much of shine on Fury has been washed away since his lackluster showing against Ngannou, Hearn still favors boxing’s lineal king to handles his business against Usyk.
“I really believed he was quite a strong favorite pre-Ngannou,” Hearn said of Fury. “We don’t really know physically where he’s at. I mean, he’s lucky that Usyk’s not a puncher, he’s lucky Usyk’s a much smaller man. Because I think against a bigger guy, against a puncher, against a guy that can wrestle him on the inside, I think his confidence really wouldn’t be there in a fight like that. So I do think Fury will win the fight, but you certainly can’t rule out Usyk, and we just don’t know where he’s at physically or mentally after a fight like that [Ngannou performance]. He didn’t look himself in that fight, but perhaps he was just ill prepared.”