Eddie Hearn has claimed that Anthony Joshua could beat Francis Ngannou in three round on Mail Sport’s The Hook – despite the MMA fighter making Tyson Fury look like a novice during Saturday’s ‘Battle of the Baddest’.
The Gypsy King anticipated a rout in Riyadh ahead of the crossover clash, but was taken the distance by Ngannou over 10 rounds.
Ngannou managed to drop Fury but the fight ended with Fury claiming victory by split-decision, setting up a forthcoming clash against Oleskandr Usyk.
But the Matchroom promoter was the latest voice to express his surprise at the result, calling Fury’s performance ‘dreadful’.
‘People saying “oh, he’s let the boxing world down” – I don’t think that really matters,’ Hearn told The Hook on Tuesday. ‘I think it was good for boxing in that it was an incredible spectacle. What Saudi Arabia did with the production, and the ring walks was amazing.
Eddie Hearn has predicted a towering victory for Anthony Joshua against Francis Ngannou
The Cameroonian MMA star (centre) nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the sport
Ngannou knocked down Tyson Fury in Riyadh – but the Gypsy King won by split decision
‘But before the fight I gave Francis Ngannou zero chance of winning, like, on paper it’s just the most terrible mismatch. A guy who has never had a professional boxing match. And I think there was definitely an element of Tyson looking through him, he wasn’t as well prepared as he should have been, but it was still an awful performance.
‘They’re now talking about Ngannou as arguably the number one in the heavyweight division, and it’s the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard because he was definitely much better than people expected he would be – but he can get beat by anybody from English title level (all the way up) to the number one.
‘But there’s some big fights out there for him now.’
One of them could come in the form of Hearn’s fighter Anthony Joshua, and Hearn shared that he had previously spoken with Joshua about the possibility of the match-up six months before his Saudi showdown with Fury.
‘He went, “I’m not interested in that, almost a bit gimmicky – I want to win the world heavyweight title again”.
‘But now, having in most people’s opinion beaten Tyson Fury at the weekend, how can he not be credible – whether it’s AJ, whether it’s Wilder,’ Hearn continued.
Hearn also stressed that he ‘felt’ for Ngannou because ‘if he would have got the final result on paper, it would have gone down as one of the greatest sporting victories. Forget boxing – in the history of sport.
‘Fury looked scared in the back end of the fight. Everytime they got in a clinch, he looked like he was getting flung around. It was a difficult fight in that no one really did a lot in the back end but – but because (Ngannou) dropped him and because he won those early two rounds, for me, he won the fight.
‘When the final bell went, I went oh my God, he’s lost. Most people’s reaction was that Ngannou won the fight. I can’t believe it.
‘Fury looked like the guy who’s never boxed before.’
When asked about the possibility of Ngannou facing Joshua for his next high-profile bout, Hearn hinted about a potential match-up, but stayed vague.
‘The only thing AJ has on his mind is to become three-time heavyweight champion,’ Hearn said.
‘AJ-Ngannou fight is a monster. Two absolute man mountains and I love the fight because I think it’s easy work for Anthony Joshua.
‘All these poeple now who think that Ngannou is going go out and beat AJ, beat (Deontay) Wilder, beat (Zhilei) Zhang – me, I respect what he’s done but I’m a nonbeliever.
‘We love the fight. It’s a massive fight in Saudi. (A fight) that could create history in Africa, like a Rumble in the Jungle two. It’s massive.
‘The crazy thing is, some people are calling it a 50-50 fight. So I’m all over it. If you really think that, make the fight.
Hearn claimed that Fury looked like a novice next to competent performance from Ngannou
Joshua has beaten Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius (pictured) since losing to Oleksandr Usyk last year
Hearn was also bullish about his fighter’s chances.
‘I know AJ wins that fight inside three, six rounds max. So we’ll see.
‘But Ngannou got to give him the credit. He’s a big strong boy, and he’s put himself in a strong position.’
After losing his rematch to Usyk last August, Joshua has recorded back-to-back wins against Jermaine Franklin and Robert Helenius.