Anthony Joshua’s next opponent has been confirmed as former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou with a fight on an at-yet-unconfirmed date to take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The news was announced by Matchroom and Queensberry on Friday night.
A date for the fight will be confirmed next week, with a press conference planned for January 15 in London.
Joshua continued his quest to return to the top of the heavyweight division with a dominant five-round win over Otto Wallin on December 23 but expectations that he would next face Deontay Wilder evaporated when the American lost to Joseph Parker on the same card.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou knocked down Tyson Fury in his first professional boxing bout last October, although the latter still won a split decision, and is now ranked in the WBC’s top 10 of heavyweight contenders.
Speaking after his impressive win against Wallin, Joshua declared: “I’m down to fight anyone. Whenever and whoever.”
Reacting to the news of the fight on Back Pages Tonight on Sky Sports News, The Sun’s Charlie Wyett said: “I think so [that it’s the right opponent]
“He was obviously hoping it was going to be Deontay Wilder but because of what happened with his fight they have lined this opponent up. It’s a process that’s going to take a while.
“It’s a good fight for him [Joshua], it’s probably going to be on March 9, with the press conference in a few days’ time.
“I think that’s one thing we’re going to have to get used to now for many years to come that all these fights are going to be in Saudi Arabia now.
“But it’s not a surprise that they’ve fixed up a fight for around that time.”