Francis Ngannou says a matchup between the two fighters considered to be the hardest-hitters in their respective combat sports remains a distinct possibility.
Ngannou, 37, takes on his second professional boxing bout in March when he faces off against the former two-time world champion Anthony Joshua in Saudi Arabia — a fight that was originally intended to put Joshua against Deontay Wilder, before the latter was surprisingly defeated by New Zealand’s Joseph Parker in December.
But despite putting a spanner in the works of that particular bout Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, has said that he would welcome the opportunity to clash with Wilder once he has finished his business with Joshua and potentially Tyson Fury.
“I’m here for the boxing career and there I have a lot of challenges, a lot of names. For example, the top three guys that I’ve always had are Fury, Joshua and Wilder,” Ngannou said in a recent interview with Sky Sports.
“Wilder better get it together because I’m not done, I want that name on my record,” Ngannou added.
Wilder, who is 38, has now lost three of his past four bouts — twice to Fury and once to Parker — after having embarked on an impressive 42-0-1 streak before that. It’s often said, particularly in the heavyweight ranks, that power is the last thing to leave an ageing fighter, and Wilder’s power is indisputable having ended 42 of his 43 wins by knockout.
Wilder remains an attractive option for Ngannou, it remains to be seen where — or in which sport — the theoretical bout might take place.
“Two months ago, we were talking about fighting Deontay Wilder in the PFL [Professional Fighters League]. The landscape can change quick. Everything is possible,” Ngannou said.
And while Ngannou remains committed to competing in MMA in the PFL, right now he has different motivations: “It’s a boxing career, it’s not an MMA career now. We are here talking about my boxing career.
He added: “In my MMA career, I got to the point that is everyone’s dream. I was MMA champion. There are some great fights to do in MMA but there’s not a new challenge, something exciting in MMA.”