Joshua And Hearn Want Overdue Showdown With Fury

Anthony Joshua confirmed he is targeting the winner of Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk after stopping Francis Ngannou in two rounds.

The 34 year old put himself on course for the winner of the two fights for the undisputed heavyweight title – the first is on May 18 – when in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia he recorded so convincing a victory over an opponent Fury had struggled with.

He ruthlessly exposed Ngannou, a celebrated mixed martial artist, as an overhyped novice in the boxing ring, and after previously stopping Otto Wallin – another opponent Fury had struggled with – and resisted answering questions about Fury, he revealed that an overdue fight with his long-term rival is what he ultimately wants.

“Yes it is,” he responded when asked, post-fight, if a fight with Fury was his target.

“You gotta speak to Eddie [Hearn, my promoter], Matchroom Boxing, 258 Management, [my trainer] Ben Davison and the team,” he continued. “They’ll shape my future. I’m just here to fight. I wanna go back to my cage, lock myself away, and then I’m gonna be let out when it’s time to fight again. Whatever they want me to do, I’m down for whatever.

“I just wanna fight.”

Cameroon’s Ngannou, 37, had been knocked down three times by right hands until what might even prove the end of his boxing career came two minutes and 38 seconds into the second round.

“On the route to the championship you should always stay focused,” Joshua continued. “That was me stepping aside from that mission. I did something for the broadcasters and sponsors to get behind, because it’s just entertainment, but when I saw [Ngannou’s] fight with Tyson Fury, I was like, ‘Damn, this guy can fight’, so I said, ‘I need a piece of that’.

“He’s an inspiration, so we wanted to welcome him. We broke bread together. He’s a great champion. This doesn’t take away anything of his capabilities, because in boxing it’s one or the other, right? He can come again. He can come again.

“I told him he shouldn’t leave boxing. He can do well. He’s two fights in and he’s fought the best. He can go a long way if he’s dedicated. It’s up to him.

“The Ben Davison Performance Centre. You know who’s there, and I appreciate them highly – [former trainers] Derrick James; Rob McCracken; Angel Fernandez; Joby Clayton; Robert Garcia; Virgil Hunter. All of these guys that I worked with who’ve helped me to this day. Shaped me and I’m still learning; still pushing. I’m just hungry, innit? Stay hungry and all that good stuff.

“It only takes one shot in the heavyweight division. If that was me you’d be saying, ‘Joshua should retire; Joshua’s finished’. You should always keep searching for better. Joseph Parker’s one of my favourite fighters. He had it tough; [has] been relentless, kept on pushing and look at him now. So for me, [regarding if] I’m coming into my peak, I’m just pushing day by day and who knows where it will take me?

“I’m just making the most of it because, imagine – in five years I’m not going to be fighting anymore. This will all be just said and done. This will be a distant memory so I’m just trying to make the most of it.”

Before he returned to his dressing room Joshua had complained that, “You lot put too much pressure on me”, but his promoter Eddie Hearn, whose previously fractured relationship with Fury’s promoter Frank Warren had done so much to inhibit a fight between Joshua and Fury, said: “I’m so proud of him because there was a huge amount of pressure.

“People were talking about if he was to lose to Francis Ngannou what would happen. He rolled the dice because if he wins this fight we will fight the winner of Fury and Usyk. There was a show here in October; if was called the Battle Of The Baddest, to decide the baddest man on the planet. They shouldn’t have done that in October – they should have done it tonight, because you’re looking at the baddest man right there. You’re looking at the number one heavyweight in the world, unquestionably.

“On this form there’s no man in the world that can beat him in the heavyweight division. I told you he’s going to come back and become the undisputed heavyweight champion. There’s a brilliant fighter called Tyson Fury – please, please beat Oleksandr Usyk on May 18, because I promise you you will get the biggest fight in the history of the sport when Anthony Joshua takes the undisputed world championship.

“I promise you, he ain’t getting beat. He is the best heavyweight in the world. That is one of the most destructive knockouts I have ever seen. People talk about how Tyson Fury did against Ngannou – forget about that. What I said would happen, happened. He went in there – he destroyed Francis Ngannou. This man is a savage – a beast – the best heavyweight in the world, and I cannot wait for him to beat Tyson Fury.”