BOXING

Anthony Joshua suffers next fight blow before Francis Ngannou match

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Anthony Joshua will take on Francis Ngannou in March, but he may not get the chance to face the winner of Tyson Fury’s unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk.

Before his bout with Ngannou in March, Joshua has been dealt a setback. AJ is facing face the former MMA fighter in a heavyweight division match in Saudi Arabia.

However, even if he wins, he may not fight the winner of Fury’s unification bout with Usyk. Usyk defeated Joshua in 2021 to claim his WBO, IBF, and WBA belts, before winning a rematch the following year.

Since then, Joshua has triumphed over Jermaine Franklin, Robert Helenius and Otto Wallin. He is now preparing to fight Ngannou, who controversially lost to Fury in December, though many experts felt he should have won.

But Joshua must come to terms with the fact that he might have to wait before facing Fury or Usyk. Turki Alalshikh, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Entertainment said: “I’ll tell you what is in my mind. If Ngannou wins then he will have a rematch against the champion.

anthony joshua

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“If Joshua wins and the way of the winner of Tyson/Usyk, it will be (a) long time because they will have (a) rematch. We are thinking and discussing with Joshua and (Filip) Hrgovic camps to maybe have a fight between them. I guarantee Usyk and he has my word, of two more big fights.”

Joshua, despite recent struggles, insists he’s still at the top of his game. He hinted at reclaiming the belts he lost to Usyk three years ago. “I’ve never left! I’ll always be [there]. From the minute I’ve laced up these gloves from the amateurs until now, I’ve managed to keep my name at the top of the amateur scene and the professional scene.

“It’s just the truth, it’s just how it is, and I think it’ll be that way until I don’t want to fight anymore. For the fans at home they just want to see matches. At the same time, it’s like ‘I don’t care, just get the fight done’.

“You will never know what it’s like or what it feels like to be a champion until you become one and, for me, belts will always matter because it’s something that you set your goals out to achieve as a little kid. If you are a tennis fan you win your trophies, footballer you win a trophy, boxing you win a title.”

Francis Ngannou AND Anthony Joshua

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Ngannou, however, won’t make it easy for Joshua. The 37-year-old is confident he can beat Joshua and has demanded a chance to face him. “Maybe make him look ordinary. When extraordinary people meet, they might just look ordinary. Of course, I think I can beat him,” Ngannou said when the fight was announced.

“I called for the fight and I’m here really to beat him and that’s why I came over here. I’ve been calling for those fights for four years. I’m not here to show up, I’m here to take over.”

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