UPDATE (5:22 pm ET): Eddie Hearn has confirmed the fight is set, with a press conference set for January 15.
Anthony Joshua appears to have a replacement opponent for his planned fight with Deontay Wilder, as Joshua will reportedly face Francis Ngannou in a 10-round boxing match in Saudi Arabia.
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani broke the news today on social media, reporting that both sides have signed for the fight in Riyadh.
Joshua (27-3, 24 KO) was meant to finally face Wilder in March, before Wilder suffered an upset loss in an awful performance against Joseph Parker on Dec. 23.
That same show, Joshua easily handled Otto Wallin, stopping his opponent after five rounds.
There was some speculation that Joshua vs Wilder could go ahead anyway, but that petered out pretty fast.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou (0-1) had his pro boxing debut on Oct. 28 in Saudi Arabia, losing a debated 10-round decision to lineal champion Tyson Fury, dropping Fury in the third round.
Even with the split decision loss, Ngannou’s star power and danger was confirmed, and now he’ll get another massive payday against a big-time boxing star.
Matchroom had talked about making a Joshua vs Ngannou fight some time back, when Ngannou was making clear his intention to give boxing a try. At that time, promoter Eddie Hearn said Joshua wasn’t terribly interested. After the Fury fight, that has clearly changed, and it’s simply far more money on the table than Joshua fighting Filip Hrgovic or somebody.
Joshua vs Ngannou is expected to be officially announced “later this month” in London, which would include an exact date and all that, which may or may not still be March 2.