Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou promised winner will get undisputed title shot

Joshua vs Ngannou was officially unveiled on Monday night (Picture: Getty)

Anthony Joshua and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou will go to war on 8 March in Saudi Arabia – with a the chance to fight Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight title waiting for the winner.

Joshua vs Ngannou was officially unveiled on Monday evening with the latter fighting for just the second time in a boxing ring having given Fury an almighty scare in Saudi Arabia last October on his professional debut.

He will take on two-time heavyweight champion Joshua in Riyadh in March, just three weeks after Fury and Usyk meet to crown the division’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis 25 years ago.

Those two fights will serve to define the heavyweight division and possibly set up something even bigger for later in 2024. Turki Alalshikh, the head of Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) and the man responsible for bringing together boxing’s biggest names for the recent shows in the region, made it clear at Monday’s press conference that he wants the winners of those respective bouts to collide.

While the opportunity to become a three-time heavyweight champion will shift into focus should he come through his fight in March unscathed, Joshua refused to look ahead to that potential undisputed bout, first concentrating on ‘taking Ngannou’s soul’.

‘Every fight leads to somewhere,’ Joshua said. ‘This fight is my everything, my soul, my spirit, my mind and my body. We will see where it leads me.

‘Right now I am not thinking of world title belts, I’m thinking of Francis. Right now the belts are on hold, my focus is on getting through training camp and getting through the fight successfully.

Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren

Hearn and Warren shook hands on stage over plans for future fights (Picture: Getty)

Joshua continued: ‘He’s seen people like me, I have seen people like him many a time before. It is just his mind that I have to conquer in the ring. You have to take someone’s soul, you have to take their spirit, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be explosive.’

37-year-old Ngannou shocked the boxing world when he dropped WBC champion Fury in the third round of their non-title contest three months ago, falling to a controversial split decision defeat that night.

‘The Tyson fight is in the past,’ he said. ‘I have a new challenge in front of me and I take it even more serious than before because there is something more on the line, probably the undisputed Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou promised winner will get undisputed title shot. So let’s see. Maybe I will do something no one has ever done before. I believe I have the tools to do that, starting by getting the win against AJ.’

On the Joshua vs Ngannou undercard, it was also confirmed Joseph Parker, the man who derailed plans for ‘AJ’ to meet Deontay Wilder, will take on Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang.

Plans for another supershow are also seemingly underway with Turki Alalshikh proposing a showdown between Frank Warren’s five best Queensberry Promotions fighters and five of Eddie Hearn’s best in class from Matchroom Boxing.

The rival promoters, who shared the stage for the first time last year, where once again sat side-by-side on Monday evening, shaking hands and promising to deliver that card later in the year.

MORE : Francis Ngannou’s air of mystery is gone, Anthony Joshua beats him in style before becoming world champion again

MORE : Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury, Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol and more: The fights we want to see in 2024… and one we can avoid

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