Anthony Joshua likely to face winner of Fury-Usyk if he beats Francis Ngannou in Riyadh

Light-heavyweight unification fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol planned for June in Saudi Arabia

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Anthony Joshua is in line for a shot at the undisputed heavyweight championship should he get past Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on March 8.

Joshua, a two-time title holder, enjoyed his best performance in years when he stopped Otto Wallin in Saudi Arabia last December and now takes on Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, who exceeded all expectations on his professional boxing debut against WBC champion Tyson Fury.

The Joshua-Ngannou bout, which will headline a card billed as 'Knockout Chaos', was announced in London on Monday as the fourth big event of Riyadh Season. The third will take place on February 17 when Fury and Oleksandr Usyk fight to determine boxing's first undisputed heavyweight champion in 25 years.

And at the outset of the press conference, Turki Alalshikh, Chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment in Saudi Arabia, revealed he plans to pair the winners in a bout in the kingdom later in 2024.

"You understand now why there is Joshua v Ngannou... You will see the result of this match will connect [with] the result of February 17, this is our idea," said Alalshikh, who also outlined his plans for an undisputed light-heavyweight title fight between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol in June.

Joshua (27-3) returned to form in spectacular fashion with his five-round demolition of Wallin on December 23's 'Day of Reckoning' card, but insisted he wasn't looking past Ngannou – despite his aim of becoming a three-time world champion inching ever closer.

He said: "Every fight leads to somewhere so this fight is my everything... we will see where it leads me. Right now I am not thinking about any championship belts or anything, my main focus is Francis and on getting through an intense and focused training camp. How I train is how I fight, so if I get victory in my training camp then I am sure I will get victory on the night, so that is all I am focused on. Right now, the belts are on hold."

Ngannou, meanwhile, admitted he is relishing the opportunity to upset the odds again. He showed good fundamentals, rattled and dropped Fury before losing a split decision in a 10-rounder in Saudi Arabia on October 28.

"The Tyson Fury fight was great, it was awesome, but that's in the past now," he said. "I have a new challenge and one I take even more seriously as there is something more on the line which could be the undisputed title. Let's see, maybe I will do something nobody has ever done before. I believe I have the tools to do that, starting with a win against AJ on March 8 in Riyadh. It will be a good fight. Not an easy one, but not an impossible one."

Promoter Frank Warren revealed both the February 17 and March 8 undercards will be announced "in the coming days", with a showdown between New Zealand's Joseph Parker and China's Zhilei Zhang strongly tipped to be the March 8 co-feature.

Joshua's next fight was meant to be against knockout artist Deontay Wilder but Parker derailed those plans when he comfortably outpointed the American on December 23. His reward for pulling off that upset is likely to be a fight with Zhang, who confirmed his status as the heavyweight bogeyman with a pair of victories over the division's previous bogeyman, Joe Joyce.

A world cruiserweight title rematch between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis is in play for February 17 underneath the Fury-Usyk fight, as is a super-featherweight title clash between Joe Cordina and Anthony Cacace.

Meanwhile, Alalshikh confirmed his plans to bring an undisputed light-heavyweight unification to the kingdom in June. Beterbiev bludgeoned Callum Smith into submission in seven rounds to retain the IBF, WBO and WBC titles on Saturday night. His Russian rival Bivol owns the WBA strap.

"I want to see Artur [Beterbiev] and [Dmitry] Bivol, and I want to see it in June. I will speak to [promoters] Top Rank," said Alalshikh.

Updated: February 18, 2024, 2:39 PM