Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou: When is the fight, how to watch and undercard line-up

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou/Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou: When is the fight, how to watch and undercard line-up
Anthony Joshua takes on Francis Ngannou on March 8 in Saudi Arabia - Zac Goodwin/PA Wire

Anthony Joshua, the former world heavyweight champion who lost his belts to Oleksandr Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the autumn of 2021, is back in the ring and trying to extend his unbeaten run to four after losing a rematch with Usyk on a split-decision.

Joshua’s latest fight is a match with Francis Ngannou, a dual citizen of France and Cameroon, a former UFC heavyweight champion who now fights in MMA for the Professional Fighters League. Ngannou made his professional boxing debut last October in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, losing the so-called 10-round ‘Battle of the Baddest’ to WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury on a split decision after knocking the Lancastrian to the canvas in the third round.

Ngannou, who announced his return to MMA for the first time since January 2022 would be against the 6ft 8in Renan Ferreira later this year, takes on Joshua over 10 rounds again at the top of a  bill called ‘Knockout Chaos’. Joshua is confident he can dominate the non-title bout in similar fashion to the way he finished off Otto Wallin in five rounds last December, telling Sky Sports: “I believe I can knock him out. Definitely. I would love to knock him out and make a statement. Physically I feel strong, feeling good. Strong enough to get the job done and mentally I’m in a place where I’m ready for war. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

When is Joshua v Ngannou?

The bout is scheduled for Friday, March 8, 2024 and the show starts at 4pm GMT.

Why is the fight being held on a Friday?

The fight is taking place on a Friday, rather than the usual Saturday night, to avoid a clash with the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on March 9.

Where is the fight being held?

The bout will be contested in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, which is making a big play to become the new premium destination for world sporting events. Joshua fought there recently when he beat Wallin.

How can I watch it in the UK?

The fight is being shown exclusively in the UK and Ireland on Sky Box Office for a pay per view fee for Sky customers of £19.95 or €24.95 in the Irish Republic. Customers outside Britain and Ireland can watch it on DAZN for a PPV fee of £19.99. Telegraph Sport will be running a round-by-round live blog with up to the minute contributions from Gareth A Davies in Saudi Arabia.

Who is on the undercard line-up?

  • Zhilei Zhang vs Joseph Parker for WBO interim heavyweight title

  • Rey Vargas vs Nick Ball for WBC featherweight title

  • Mark Chamberlain vs Gavin Gwynne

  • Jack McGann vs Louis Greene

  • Andrii Novytskyi vs Juan Torres

  • Justis Huni vs Kevin Lerena

  • Ziyad Almaayouf vs Christian Lopes Flores

  • Roman Fury vs Martin Svarc

What are the latest odds?

  • Joshua to win 1/4

  • Ngannou to win 3/1

  • Draw 16/1

Betting on the fight? First take a look at these best betting sites ahead of the big clash

Why Joshua vs Ngannou is no gimmick

Anthony Joshua labelled Francis Ngannou “a gimmick” of the heavyweight division when the former UFC star fought world champion Fury back in October.

Now the British heavyweight has the challenge of facing Ngannou and proclaimed he would “take his soul” in the ring in their rumble in Riyadh.

There is more than a little jeopardy for Joshua when the two huge punchers collide in an event labelled ‘Knockout Chaos’.

The march towards the Middle East continues, with more ties and deeper investment. There is no “gimmick” in the growth of boxing’s big-fight presence in Saudi Arabia. Saudi minister Turki Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the General Authority for Entertainment and Riyadh Season, has signalled his intent and signed Joseph Parker and Zhilei Zhang to the March card.

Rival British promoters Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn will also duke it out with a card later this year, bringing five fighters from each of their stables to go up against each other. Warren and Hearn shook hands on stage as the Saudi Minister announced the deal – with more to come, not least Tyson Fury’s undisputed heavyweight showdown with Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh. Fury is already in Saudi Arabia for an eight-week camp and Ngannou leaves for the Kingdom on Tuesday.

Promoter George Warren, Frank Warren’s son who is working closely with Al-Sheikh, told Telegraph Sport: “I believe they’re here for the long term in the sport. This is just getting bigger and bigger, and the investment in boxing is here for the long term.”

His father, Frank, has said boxing “is being revolutionised”. Boxing’s propensity for politics and tendency towards procrastination is being turned on its head with these match-ups, which are bringing together the greatest fighters in their prime.

The next two months bring two of the biggest heavyweight events of the year: Fury has his work cut out against Usyk with two undefeated fighters sharing an era-defining, legacy-creating moment in May. Joshua puts his own reputation on the line against the dangerous Ngannou, whose storyline from growing up in poverty and digging in a sand quarry as a teenager to becoming an all-conquering cage fighter in Las Vegas is a Hollywood script in itself. From there, there is the possibility of it leading to the biggest, richest all-British fight of all time: Fury versus Joshua. It could happen. It is getting closer.

Joshua, fresh from a brilliant performance against Otto Wallin in December and newly rejuvenated under young trainer Ben Davison, is flying high at present. It showed in his business-like demeanour in the face of Ngannou, bedecked in a golden cape to the Briton’s track-suited attire.

Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou square off
Joshua and Ngannou are both physically-imposing fighters - Getty Images/Mark Robinson

Joshua exudes confidence at present; physically and mentally. “You have to take someone’s soul, you have to take their spirit. And I’m looking forward to the challenge for sure,” Joshua said, adding that the contest will be an “explosive” encounter.

It will surely be that. But as we saw with Ngannou when he felled Fury in the third round of their fight back in October, he is a fighter capable of carpe diem moments. Sitting backstage with Ngannou just before the news conference, the 6ft 6ins 20-stone fighter rubbed his hands together.

“I won a long time ago, with what has happened to me in life,” Ngannou smiled. “Did I upset the heavyweight division against Tyson Fury... ? Watch me truly shock the world against Anthony Joshua. Shock the world. Bring change.”

Who can stand in front of Ngannou and doubt him and the extraordinary narrative arc following his life. Just like boxing itself at the moment. Bringing change – and a new dawn.