sport news Francis Ngannou's next opponent: Who could face the former UFC heavyweight ... trends now
Francis Ngannou has a lot of options open to him as the former UFC champion considers who he will fight next.
Ngannou, the franchise's most recent heavyweight champion, was released from his UFC contract last month after failing to agree a new deal.
It looks likely that the 36-year-old French-Cameroonian fighter will step across into boxing, and there are a few potential opponents he could take on.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Eddie Hearn has spoken to Ngannou about the possibility of taking on Anthony Joshua, with the boxing promoter saying: 'He has a new ocean to navigate now, which is a lot more rocky than the world of MMA and UFC in that he's in the Wild West of boxing.'
Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte have also been vocal in potentially squaring up with the MMA star. Here is the latest information in the race to fight Ngannou.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou looks set to enter the world of boxing
Anthony Joshua's career is at a crossroads after his back-to-back defeats to Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk.
The 33-year-old Olympic gold medalist is now looking to get himself back in the ring, and the opportunity to take on Ngannou is one that has been discussed by his promoter, Eddie Hearn.
"Earlier this week, Hearn told the MMA Hour: 'I mean, I think he should fight Joshua. These guys have a mountain to climb in terms of the challenge of fighting an elite boxer, but to go through the process of having two or three fights — one fight you might look bad because you're learning, so the value really is the unknown.
'What happens when two titans from the world of fight sports collide? The UFC heavyweight world champion Ngannou and the two-time world heavyweight boxing champion Joshua. The complete unknown.
'The unknown of how good is Ngannou? We know he punches extremely hard, if he lands one on Joshua, is it the greatest upset of all time? Or will AJ completely steamroll him and you'll see Ngannou get knocked out? That's the attraction of that fight, the unknown.'
Sportsmail previously reported that, despite not being a self-confessed MMA fan, Hearn said he was 'captivated' by Ngannou's achievements in the Octagon.
There is also the appeal of the financial draw, which would benefit both parties.
However, any potential match-up between AJ and Ngannou may have to be put on the back-burner for a little while, following news that Joshua is set to face American Jermaine Franklin at the O2 Arena in London on April 1.
Anthony Joshua has not fought since losing back-to-back fights against Oleksandr Usyk
Eddie Hearn believes Anthony Joshua should be Francis Ngannou's first opponent in the ring
AJ has not won a bout since defeating Kubrat Pulev at Wembley Arena in December 2020, which took his professional record to 24-1, before the two Usyk losses in September 2021 and August 2022.
Hearn said: 'The Anthony Joshua fight is probably among the biggest fights that can be made in