Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has begun negotiations with UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou about a potential superfight with two-time boxing champion Anthony Joshua.
Since Joshua became professional following the London 2012 Olympics, the British promoter has been looking after his career and has helped him to two reigns with the unified heavyweight belts. And with former UFC champion Ngannou, he might now bring his client one of the biggest crossover matches ever.
Since Cameroonian fighter Ngannou quit the UFC without surrendering his title, the organization will have to name a new champion when Jon Jones takes against Ciryl Gane next month. He is now eager to transition into boxing, his first love in combat sports, and has listed Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua as potential opponents.
Hearn confirmed that discussions had begun between Matchroom and Ngannou last week. "I think he's an outstanding man," Hearn said. "I always talk too much and I don't want to talk too much about what was said.
"I'm fascinated by people who have almost educated themselves to a point where you can have a conversation with a fighter or an athlete like that almost more productively than an agent or a lawyer. I reached out to Francis just to say 'look, I'm getting all these approaches from people claiming to represent Francis Ngannou, just tell me who I need to speak to,' and the answer was 'me'.
Hearn is eager to promote what would be one of the biggest boxing bouts between two outstanding heavyweight champions from different sports, but he is aware that Ngannou will want to assemble the best team first. Additionally, there will be offers from other promoters who want to book him, especially for the matches against Fury or Wilder.
"I feel like he probably wants to build a team of people around him who make sure that they successfully navigate that ocean and maximise his potential," Hearn continued. "We'll see, for me we'd love to be involved in his career. The Anthony Joshua fight is probably one of the biggest fights that can be made across any kind of sport.
"Obviously the Tyson Fury fight is there for him as well. I was pretty captivated by him, I'm not a massive MMA fan, but I still respect what he's achieved there. I just found him to be an outstanding gentleman, we'll see where it goes. I said 'we'll talk' and ultimately he's going to have a lot of opportunities presented to him.
"He has a golden opportunity now to really solidify himself financially and many generations beyond him by being involved in an event that would be one of the biggest in fight sport history. I think he should fight Anthony Joshua, these guys have a mountain to climb in terms of the challenge of fighting an elite boxer."
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