Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has been quick to seize on the hype surrounding MMA star Francis Ngannou after his unexpected stand-out performance against Tyson Fury in the boxing ring on Saturday night and he’s now talking up the possibility of him fighting former two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua next.
“It’s difficult to say [Ngannou is] not a world-class fighter, because I feel like he just beat Tyson Fury,” Hearn said on The MMA Hour. “But I look at it now, and we had a meeting — me and Francis — about, I don’t know, five or six months ago, and he asked me to make the Anthony Joshua fight. And I went back to AJ and I said, ‘Look, I’ve met with Francis Ngannou, what a lovely gentlemen, what do you think?’ And he went, ‘I’m not interested. I don’t like the gimmick stuff. I just want to win the world heavyweight championship.’ So I’m like, OK.
“Now I’m looking at it and I’m thinking, Francis Ngannou against Anthony Joshua, perhaps in Africa, perhaps the Rumble in the Jungle 2, is one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport. And I promise you this, respect to Francis — easy work for my man [Joshua]. And I know you’re getting a little high right now, I know the MMA world is just walking in the clouds, but we’ll bring it straight back down to reality.”
Hearn added further icing on the cake by suggesting that a win over Joshua would likely pave the way for Ngannou to fight for the heavyweight title.
“All you have to do if you’re Francis Ngannou now is you have to rematch Tyson Fury or you have to fight Anthony Joshua.
“I’ve been in touch with some of those guys and people in Saudi Arabia as well, and if Usyk has to fight Fury, which I believe he will — AJ against Francis Ngannou, and the winner fights the winner of the other fight. And listen, if Francis Ngannou … beats Anthony Joshua, he should fight for the world heavyweight title in two fights. So that way you’re getting the credibility. AJ against Ngannou is absolutely massive. Massive. Two giants next to each other. And who knows what’s going to happen. I can’t even believe we’re debating this on a Monday morning, but fair play to your boy. He pulled it out the bag. He didn’t fumble it.”
Hearn was also keen to steer the narrative away from talk of a potential MMA fight between Ngannou and another boxing ace Deontay Wilder, suggesting that would be a complete mismatch in favor of ‘The Predator’ and not as big of a draw as a boxing match against Joshua.
“I’m not being funny. Have you seen his legs? If Francis Ngannou kicked Deontay Wilder’s legs, they would literally snap in half,” Hearn said. “Like, Wilder is a boxer, very dangerous boxer, very exciting boxer, very talented boxer. Listen, the money for Francis Ngannou now in boxing, he ain’t going back [to MMA]. He ain’t going back. The money that I know that AJ against Ngannou could generate … [it’d be] a lot more than he got on Saturday.
“AJ is a global superstar. Deontay Wilder is a solid name, big name in America — ish — through the Fury fights. Not anywhere near the same level. You’re talking about a two-time heavyweight world champion. You’re talking about a guy that has endorsement deals, broadcast deals all over the world. It’s a monstrous fight. And you know the mad thing? The really mad thing? When the bookmakers price that fight up, they’ll make it competitive.”
And with all that being said, Hearn still thinks Ngannou wouldn’t make it past the sixth round against Joshua.
“Listen, [Ngannou] can punch, there’s no doubt. Fury, I think his resistance isn’t what it was. It was a good shot to the top of the head, but nothing major. Take my money and I will show you what happens when Anthony Joshua fights Francis Ngannou. I said [Ngannou lasts] three rounds on Saturday. I’ll be a little bit more generous — six rounds.”