No longer anything like a ‘mere gimmick’ in the heavyweight division due to his stunningly impressive performance against Tyson Fury, Francis Ngannou is instead a major player in the division. As we know from all the articles that have been coming out on Ngannou this week, the 37 year old has a ton of options in boxing now.
One of them is a fight with Anthony Joshua, in Africa – “The Rumble in the Jungle II!” Eddie Hearn, who spoke once again with IFL TV, says he likes the fight for two reasons: one, he feels his guy AJ wins with ease, and two, he says he feels the fight would be massive, and bigger than the Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight unification battle we all still want to see.
There will never be a fight to top the sheer event, the historic meaning, or the immense drama of the legendary Muhammad Ali Vs. George Foreman fight, but next year, who knows, we could see a modern day version of the fight that took place in the heart of Africa almost 50 years ago.
“I’ve just told them, ‘We would be willing to make that fight and it’s massive,’ so it’s up to them,” Hearn said with regards to his reaching out to Ngannou’s team. “Can you imagine them two next to each other? Two absolute massive heavyweights, I’m talking ‘Rumble in the Jungle part two’ in Africa. [Joshua] beats him comfortably and two, it’s massive. I think AJ against Ngannou is a bigger fight than Fury against Usyk.”
You will no doubt have your opinion on which fight is bigger, Fury-Usyk or Joshua-Ngannou, as you will have your thoughts on which of the two fights you would most like to see happen. But if Joshua does fight Ngannou, would it really be “easy work” for AJ, as Hearn has said? Fury and all the rest of us felt that way going into Saturday’s fight in Riyadh.
Now, the cat’s out of the bag, and maybe Joshua would push himself hard in the gym, making sure he didn’t make the mistake Fury perhaps did of so severely underestimating the former UFC heavyweight champion who was having his pro boxing debut. Still, the critics feel Joshua is no longer the force he once was, that he is today ‘gun-shy’ and lacking in confidence. If AJ boxed tentatively against Ngannou, if he was unwilling, or unable, to let the big shots go, might the powerhouse from Nigeria walk clean through Joshua?
Would it be as big a shock as what we saw on Saturday, seeing Ngannou dominate large portions of a fight with Joshua? Put it this way, I’ll be surprised if there are not a good number of fans, and experts, and fellow fighters, who say they see a fight with Ngannou as anything but “easy work” for AJ. Right now, Ngannou has to take his pick from the number of lucrative big-fight options that are open to him.