UK-based boxing promotion Matchroom Boxing has announced that a highly sought-after fight between British boxing star Anthony Joshua and former heavyweight mixed martial arts champion Francis Ngannou will occur in 2024.
The fight is booked for the main event of the “Knockout Chaos” fight card on March 8, 2024, to take place in Riyadh, the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as part of its Riyadh Season sports festival.
The card has been assembled by the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia (GEA) in collaboration with Matchroom, as well as rival boxing promotions Queensberry, Goldstar, and GIMIK.
The bout follows up the October 28 crossover fight between Ngannou and boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, which saw Ngannou ranked as the world’s number 10 heavyweight by the World Boxing Council after his first-ever fight in the sport, despite the judges controversially favoring Fury in the fight’s decision.
Joshua had previously downplayed the potential of a fight with Ngannou, referring to the prospect as a “gimmick fight”, however, the potential purse is set to be extremely lucrative.
Joshua was also set to fight US boxer Deontay Wilder on March 9 in Saudi Arabia, but Wilder’s defeat at the hands of New Zealand’s Joseph Parker has seemingly expedited the plans for the Joshua vs Ngannou bout.
Turki Alalsikh, chairman of the GEA and one of the masterminds of Riyadh season, stated: “‘Knockout Chaos’ is one of the most important events to take place in Riyadh Season so far this year, an occasion which will bring together yet more international champions from one of the most popular sports in the world.”
The previous fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou opened the current Riyadh Season, with the city hosting some of its most high-profile events as part of the sports festival, including Joshua’s previous fight (a victory over Otto Wallin), as well as high profile European soccer events and other major boxing cards such as Tyson Fury’s title unification bout against Oleksandr Usyk.
The announcement of the blockbuster fight coincides with reports that mixed martial arts promotion Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) Fight Night 238 event, also slated for Riyadh Season, has been postponed.
The event, initially scheduled for March 2 in Riyadh, is now expected to take place in June instead. It will still be UFC’s first-ever event in Riyadh but is unlikely to continue under the UFC Fight 238 moniker given the linear nature of the series’ naming conventions.
It has been reported that the reason for the postponement of the event was that the Saudi Arabian hosts were unenthused about the low profile of some of the fighters on the card and had insisted on changing the date to one where it would be able to attract more well-known names.
It is currently unknown whether or not the originally scheduled fights for the event will take place on the same date elsewhere, or be moved to a new date.