Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou trade barbs at presser announcing their March 8 clash

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Anthony Joshua (left) and Francis Ngannou (right) announce upcoming fight in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 8th March 2023 – Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou face off.

In a press conference in London on Monday, Jan. 15, the ‘Knockout Chaos’ event, headlined by former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua against former MMA star Francis Ngannou was announced for Friday, March 8 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“I will be ready to go once the first bell rings,”  said Joshua, a two-time former unified champion currently rated at No. 2 by The Ring at heavyweight. “ I will approach this mission with laser focus until the job is complete. I am looking forward to returning to Riyadh and I would like to thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the passion they have shown to myself and the sport of boxing.”

Joshua completed a busy and successful year on December 23, 2023 when he defeated Otto Wallin in five rounds in a headline attraction on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ in Riyadh, a fight which marked his return to the elite end of the heavyweight rankings.

Former UFC Heavyweight champion Ngannou entered the world of boxing when he competed in the ‘Battle of the Baddest’ against WBC titlist Tyson Fury, which opened Riyadh Season on October 28, 2023. The fight boomed into life towards the end of the third round when Ngannou landed a left hook to the temple of Fury’s head and the champion was put to the canvas.

The fight won Ngannou the respect of boxing fans across the globe.  Now, in what will be his second professional fight, Ngannou takes on the other most popular heavyweight on the planet. In doing that, Ngannou pledged to continue silencing the doubters.

“People have always doubted me and I always proved them wrong,” said the Cameroon-born fighter. ‘It is clear I am a trouble for elite boxers and AJ should prepare himself for a battle because I am like nothing he has ever faced. It is going to be another spectacle for boxing fans in Riyadh, only this time I have no intention of leaving it in the hands of the judges.”

The event will also feature a solid undercard featuring Chinese giant Zhilei Zhang (26-1-1, 21 KOs) taking on former world champion Joseph Parker (34-3, 23 KOs) from New Zealand. Zhang and Parker are currently rated No. 3 and 4 by The Ring, respectively.

Rey Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs), currently the WBC featherweight titlist from Mexico will make a first defense of his belt when he takes on Nick Ball (19-0, 11 KOs).

Young lightweight contender Mark Chamberlain (14-0, 10 KOs) from England will challenge for the European Champion, Welshman Gavin Gwynne (17-2-1, 5 KOs).

Also appearing in Riyadh will be australian heavyweight hopeful Justis Huni (8-0, 4 KOs), who will be looking to make his name in the flagship division  against an opponent to be named later, plus cruiserweight prospect Roman Fury (3-0, 1 KO), junior middleweight contender Jack McGann (9-0-1, 6 KOs) and local Saudi Arabian junior welterweight Ziyad Almaayouf (4-0, 1 KO).


A press release by Matchroom was used in this article.

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