Francis Ngannou manager expects tune-up boxing match in 2023, calls Jon Jones ‘interim baddest man on the planet’
Francis Ngannou is still the baddest man on the planet as far as his manager is concerned.
“The Predator” earned that title when he captured the UFC heavyweight in January 2022 with a powerful knockout of Stipe Miocic and went on to successfully defend his championship against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. That defense was the last fight of Ngannou’s UFC contract, and, for now, his last fight with the promotion. He recently parted ways with the UFC and signed a contract with the PFL.
One condition of Ngannou’s PFL deal is that he is permitted to pursue opportunities in boxing, leaving open the possibility that he may one day step into the ring with a star pugilist like Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, or Anthony Joshua. However, his manager Marquel Martin told The MMA Hour that if Ngannou is to box in 2023, it’s likely that he’ll have to wait to face a top name.
“We go back and forth on that all the time,” Martin said when asked if Ngannou will book a marquee matchup or a tune-up bout first. “We’d love if one of the big fights present himself, but it seems like they’re kind of tied up. So I guess tune-up fight. Francis isn’t a traditional boxer, so every fight is a big fight. But I know Francis wants to challenge himself.
“Obviously, you see Deontay out there, Anthony Joshua out there, Tyson Fury out there, we’d love that matchup. I think that’s something that has a narrative and a story behind it that’s bigger than just the fight game, and at the same time, we want to see who the baddest man on the planet is. I know Dana [White] just said that [about Jon Jones] — I guess Jon Jones is the GOAT, don’t get me wrong. But baddest man on the planet? No, can’t be. Maybe the interim baddest man on the planet or something. I think Francis has that Francis Ngannou manager expects tune-up boxing match in 2023, calls Jon Jones ‘interim baddest man on the planet’.”
UFC president Dana White declared his new heavyweight champion Jon Jones “the baddest dude on the planet” in a recent interview while discussing the possibility of Fury facing Jones in the UFC octagon. Jones claimed the heavyweight title that Ngannou left vacant upon his departure with a dominant win over Ciryl Gane at UFC 285.
For Martin, Ngannou’s arrangement with the PFL not only allows him to live out his boxing dreams, but also for the Cameroonian native to potentially bring a big-money fight to Africa someday.
“I think obviously that’s something that Francis has always wanted to do,” Martin said. “The UFC knows that and that’s what I wanted to always push for. That is going to happen. Who it’s going to be against, we don’t know. We’ve had a lot of positive conversations. As you know, boxing is even crazier than the MMA space, so things just take time. Obviously, we’re in the social media age where no one wants to be patient for anything, but I’ll say without giving away too much that things are positive, they’re going in the right direction. I think people will be shocked by what comes of it.
“And at the end of the day this is not about just money. Francis wants to develop the sport in Africa. Combat sports. Again, one of the reasons why I fought for him so passionately or whatever you want to call it is because this dude is bigger than himself, the fight game. I use to tell him, ‘Bro, you realize you’re bigger than what you think you are. You’re not just meant to be a champion. You’re meant to be a figure for your fellow countrymen to give them hope, what you did in life.’
“That’s why I was like, ‘UFC, we have an amazing opportunity to do this together,’ but they wanted to do their own thing and that’s fine. At the end of the day, people need to realize that he’s not only doing this for himself, but for Africa. What we’re going to do in the boxing space, I think, is we’re going to try to bring a fight there regardless of whether it’s his next fight or whatever, we’re going to do it. Anyone else can go into Africa and put on a fight, that’s cool, but it’s different when it’s Francis.”