Eddie Hearn eyes up fight against Francis Ngannou for Anthony Joshua

Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed he is eying up MMA fighter Francis Ngannou as a future opponent to take on Anthony Joshua in the boxing ring.

The Cameroonian-French professional mixed martial artist made his professional boxing debut on Sunday, facing Tyson Fury in a heavyweight showdown in Saudi Arabia.

The ‘Gypsy King’ was spared what would have been one of the biggest upsets of all-time after the night ended in a highly unconvincing split decision win over the 37-year-old former UFC heavyweight champion.

Hearn disclosed to the BBC that he had been in touch with Ngannou’s representatives, adding: “All of a sudden that fight between two giants, they’re carved out of stone, it becomes a massive fight. We’re definitely willing to consider it.

“The MMA world believe Ngannou beats everyone. When I met Ngannou he was trying to pitch me AJ against Ngannou in Africa. I spoke to AJ about it at the time and he said ‘I want to try to win the world heavyweight championship now’.

“I said ‘this guy was close to beating Tyson Fury so he surely has to be a credible fight’. The MMA world are telling me Ngannou beats AJ easily. I’m like ‘please make the fight because that’s not the case’.”

Hearn suggested Saudi Arabia or another Middle Eastern country could host, but also wondered if it would be financially feasible for a potential bout in Africa between the ‘Predator’ and two-time heavyweight champion Joshua would be financially feasible.

Joshua hopes to fight again in 2023
Joshua hopes to fight again in 2023 (Nick Potts/PA)

The promoter revealed he and his team were in the midst of planning Joshua’s next six to 12 months, with the Olympic champion eager also to fight again before Christmas, and was after seeing Fury fight Ngannou perfectly willing to entertain the thought experiment of an all-British bout.

He added: “I’ve always been convinced AJ beats Tyson Fury but after watching that fight now I’m so sure.”