Promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom had no issues with convincing his star boxer, former two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, to fight MMA veteran Francis Ngannou.
Joshua was initially being positioned to face former WBC champ Deontay Wilder in a long-awaited fight.
That scenario was derailed when Joseph Parker won an upset twelve round unanimous decision over Wilder on December 23 in Saudi Arabia. Joshua appeared in the main event of that card and stopped Otto Wallin.
“Look, we were due to announce the Deontay Wilder fight in the ring that night,” Hearn told The MMA Hour. “Both guys had signed a contract to announce the fight and [Turki Alalshikh] was very excited. Obviously it was one of the most highly anticipated fights that could be made this fall. It’s four years in the making, everyone was really excited. Obviously Deontay Wilder lost. So from that moment, the cogs are turning in [Alalshikh’s] mind, ‘What are we going to do on March 8th, March 9th?’
“As soon as the fights finish, he’s like, ‘Right, let’s talk.’ And we had a meeting and I said to him, ‘I think [Francis Ngannou] is the biggest fight out there.’ I said it to you when I came on [The MMA Hour after Fury vs. Ngannou] — we’re talking about two giants in Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou, two men who look like they are carved out of stone, two devastating punchers. And I’ve always felt like it was the biggest fight out there. I told [Alalshikh] that and he felt the same, and these people move very quickly.”
Joshua vs. Ngannou is scheduled to take place on March 8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Hearn is expecting a very dominant victory by his man.
“Honestly, previous to the Fury fight, it wasn’t a fight that [Joshua] was interested in,” Hearn said. “Obviously we just boxed a guy in Otto Wallin that really gave Fury a really tough time, cut him, think he had 48 stitches — the fight should’ve been stopped, Otto Wallin should’ve won that fight. But it is what it is, and AJ went out and it was a mismatch. He demolished [Wallin]. And I believe we’re going to do the same here. So that performance over Tyson Fury, of course, that was really the point, the moment that made this fight credible.”