While some may have criticized Francis Ngannou for turning down a three-fight, $8 million deal from the UFC last year, few can argue with the 37-year-old star’s decision to bet on himself now.
Ngannou and former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua have agreed to a boxing match in March in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the estimated purses for both men further confirm that Ngannou has positioned himself as an even richer man moving forward.
According Sports Business Journal, Ngannou’s agent confirmed that his client will earn another eight-figure payday for his fight with Joshua. Multiple sources say this will be Ngannou’s second straight boxing bout earning $10 million or more for a bout.
Ngannou earned $10 million for his fight with Tyson Fury in October 2023, which the latter confirmed in one of the press conferences leading to the race.
His pulling power has only grown based on the performance of Ngannou vs. Fury, a fight that saw him draw the reigning champion before losing a controversial unanimous decision. There’s every reason to believe his payday, before sales and pay-per-view sponsorships kick in, could be closer to $20 million.
The sticking point for Ngannou with the proposed UFC deal was the ability to compete in boxing and mixed martial arts.
If Ngannou hadn’t signed with the Professional Fighters League and had the freedom to pursue his goals as a boxer (something the UFC wouldn’t allow him to do that under contract), would not be able to cash in on Fury’s or Joshua’s paydays.
Ngannou isn’t the only one set up for a huge payday. Joshua needs to get more out of Ngannou.
Joshua is coming off an impressive knockout victory over Otto Wallin in Riyadh in December 2023. The win was supposed to set him up for a fight with Deontay Wilder in March.
Wilder lost to Joseph Parker by unanimous decision on the same card, which scrapped the proposed fight. Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom named Ngannou as a potentially “colossal” next opponent for Joshua during an interview on IFL TV.
Shortly after the interview, the news of Joshua-Ngannou was confirmed.
Fury is said to have he made $50 million for his fight with Ngannou, according to friend and confidant Dereck Chisora. Joshua likely asked for and received a payday at least in the neighborhood of what Fury was paid for the Ngannou fight.
Based on the success and interest in Ngannou-Fury – especially in the wake of the former’s performance – there could be an even bigger audience for Ngannou-Joshua.
It will also take place less than a month after Fury faces Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed title. The heavyweights will rule the sport for the first quarter of the year, and Riyadh is the focal point for the division’s revival.