Winner of Joshua-Ngannou to fight winner of Fury-Usyk

Tyson Fury revealed Wednesday that plans are in place for the winner of Friday’s Anthony Joshua-Francis Ngannou heavyweight bout in Saudi Arabia to meet the winner of Fury’s two-bout series with fellow heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.

WBC heavyweight Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), speaking on a Queensberry Promotions stream to help promote both Joshua-Ngannou and his May 18 bout for undisputed status with three-belt champion Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs), said the push for the winners to fight comes from the Saudi Arabian host of Friday’s card, Turki Alalshikh.

Both Joshua and Fury are betting favorites in their bouts, and a meeting of two heavily popular fighters from England would likely shatter live-gate and pay-per-view heavyweight historical records.

“So there’s a lot on the line,” Fury said.

Fury and Joshua (27-3, 24 KOs) have carried on a years-long debate, building the momentum for a showdown that has been delayed and interrupted by promotional barriers and Joshua’s losses to Andy Ruiz Jr, in 2019, and Usyk, in 2021 and 2022.

But this week in Saudi Arabia the friction calmed when Joshua bumped into Fury’s father John, and they carried on a mutually cordial conversation – with the elder Fury praising Joshua and going as far as calling Joshua a “lovely” person.

“I’ve always liked ‘AJ’,” said John Fury, whose son, Roman, is fighting on the card. “He’s done a lot for boxing. He’ll be a champion again. He’s shown me respect.” 

Still, there’s work to do.

Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, knocked down Fury in their bout last year and narrowly lost, landing the bout against the 2016-2019 champion Joshua, who has occasionally demonstrated a suspect chin.

“If [Joshua] boxes and uses what he’s got, he’ll win on points,” John Fury said. “Tyson said [Ngannou] can really bang. [In the UFC] he’s been elbowed in the head; kicked in the face. He’s a tough man. The experience [advantage] is with AJ, though.”

Tyson Fury, meanwhile, is recovering from an eyebrow cut that postponed his originally planned February bout against Usyk, a complex southpaw who previously stood as undisputed cruiserweight champion. Usyk defeated Joshua by unanimous decision in their first bout, then claimed a split-decision triumph in the rematch.

Joshua, 34, has since won three consecutive bouts, including a knockout of Robert Helenius and a fifth-round stoppage in Saudi Arabia in December of Otto Wallin, who cut Fury badly and went the distance with him in 2019.

Joshua said on a separate stream that the matter of when he’ll fight Fury is “the golden question”.

“I’d say sooner rather than later,” Joshua said. “It’s in the pipeline. It’s been bubbling for a long time. It has to happen.”

Fury’s American promoter Bob Arum said he was pleased to see the chumminess between Joshua and John Fury, and fully embraces the events that would bring both men to the same ring with Saudi Arabia’s financial backing.

“We don’t pay the bills,” Arum told Boxing Scene earlier this week. “The Kingdom pays the bills. It’s all about what’s most tantalizing to them. Whatever they like, we are happy to accommodate them.” 

Roman Fury said he’s uncertain how Tyson will respond should he witness a Joshua victory on Friday night in the main event of the DAZN-streamed card in Riyadh.

“Knowing Tyson, though, I am sure he will have something planned,” said Roman Fury, who fights Martin Svarc in his fourth professional fight.