Francis Ngannou is a free agent right now, and while he has spoken frequently about possibly boxing Tyson Fury, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn says that if he were involved, he would go with Anthony Joshua as Ngannou’s first opponent
That part is kind of a “duh,” since Hearn promotes Joshua and doesn’t promote Fury, but his reasoning is the more interesting part, perhaps, and could be used to suit the argument for fighting Fury straight off just as easily.
Speaking with The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Hearn said that he has had a “friendly conversation” with the former UFC heavyweight champion, who left the company on top of his game and is now at least exploring potential boxing paths.
Hearn told Helwani that he believes Ngannou should not try to “tune up” first, but go straight into a huge money fight, believing the most money is selling the event on the “unknown” of the UFC heavyweight champion vs a top boxing star.
On speaking with Ngannou about a boxing run
“We didn’t go too deeply into stuff, but I respect him greatly for the way he’s handled his career to a point where now he’s in a fantastic position. He has a new ocean to navigate now, which is a lot more rocky than the world of MMA and UFC in that he’s in the Wild West of boxing. I feel like he probably wants to build a team of people around him that can make sure they can successfully navigate that ocean and maximize his potential.
“We’ll see what happens. For me, we would love to be involved with his career. The Anthony Joshua fight is probably among the biggest fights that can be made in any 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. But I just found him to be an outstanding gentleman. We’ll see how it goes.”
“Ultimately, he’s going to have a lot of opportunities presented to him. It’s really down to himself about which opportunities he wants to take and who he trusts to move forward. As I explained to him, in boxing, you can waste your time. You can go through months of negotiations with the wrong people. Next thing, a deal’s done, a contract’s breached, an escrow’s fallen through, and you’ve wasted six months of the year.
“He has a golden opportunity now to really solidify himself financially, and many generations beyond him, through being involved in an event that would be one of the biggest in fight sports history.”
On what he’d have Ngannou do first in boxing
“I mean, I think he should fight Anthony Joshua. I don’t see — this is another conversation I had with Nate Diaz’s guys. These guys have a mountain to climb in terms of the challenge of fighting an elite boxer, but to go through the process of having two or three fights — one fight you might look bad because you’re learning, so the value really is the unknown.
“What happens when two titans from the world of fight sports collide? The UFC heavyweight world champion Francis Ngannou and the two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua. The complete unknown. The unknown of how good is Francis Ngannou? We know he punches extremely hard, if he lands one on Anthony Joshua, is it the greatest upset of all time? Or will AJ completely steamroll him and you’ll see Francis Ngannou get knocked out? That’s the attraction of that fight, the unknown.
“So for me, if I’m representing Francis Ngannou, I want to make sure that this next move, I maximize every dollar that’s out there. He’s done the hard work, he’s done the years of hustle. He’s done the work to get himself in a position that he can move forward with what he wants to do, take control of his career. And now the freedom that he has to do that must be incredibly motivating and enjoyable for him.”
“You need people around you in boxing that know what they’re doing and you can trust, and that’s a very difficult thing. I would like to see him go straight into a big fight where he can make an absolute fortune, and then if he was to lose, to come back and actually have some fights in boxing.”