Joshua puts quest for 'belts on hold' as he looks ahead to 'good, good fight' against Ngannou

Anthony Joshua, perhaps the most misunderstood heavyweight of our era, returns to the ring March 8 against ex-UFC champ Francis Ngannou in a spectacle crossover attraction bout in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Joshua as a competitor has always wanted the greats of his era but has just has struggled with fluidity at times — the fighters who can deftly turn offense into defense, and defense into offense. Hence, Andy Ruiz Jr. caught him, and Oleksandr Usyk solved him twice.

Yet, Joshua fought three times last year, the mark of someone who still loves the sport and has a desire to return to the top.

"I love it," said Joshua when asked about facing Ngannou — his first fight in 2024.

"Every fight leads somewhere, this fight is my everything. My soul, my spirit, my mind, my body, and we will see where it leads me, but right now I am not thinking about any championship belts or anything.

"My main focus is Francis and to be fair getting through an intense focused training camp. Realistically how I train is how I fight."

Joshua was thought to target Fillip Hrgovic if the IBF heavyweight title were to go vacant. Or if there was an option for Joshua to face Hrgovic for the number-one contender spot as Hrgovic has sat in that spot for some time.

Hrgovic even fought on the December 23 card which led some to speculate if a future clash was coming. Yet, Joshua made it clear the belts are not the focus at this moment.

"Right now we are going to put the belts on hold," he said.

Joshua also made it clear Ben Davison will continue being his trainer. This will be his second camp with Davison, though he praised his former coach, Derrick James, he also reflected on the comforts of being in Britain. 

"Being home, and working with someone just as good, I’m just searching for greatness. Continuously searching for greatness, elevate myself, and continue to push forward."

With a record of 27-3, with 24 wins by knockout, the 34-year-old Joshua holds the edge in professional boxing experience. He also stands two inches taller than Ngannou. Joshua is six-feet, six-inches tall, whereas Ngannou is six-foot, four-inches.

Yet, none of that could matter if the 0-1 Ngannou, who is 37-years-old lands the right concussive blow. 

"There is many ways to skin a cat. I can counterpunch, he can counterpunch. We can both box, as he has proven himself. We can both train. It is going to be a good, good fight."