Deontay Wilder is more than happy to welcome Francis Ngannou to boxing, but he’ll offer to take the same risk in an MMA fight against the former UFC heavyweight champion.
With Ngannou currently exploring his options after exiting the UFC following the end of his recent contract, he’s been teasing a crossover into boxing, which was his lifelong dream before he ever took his first fight in MMA. Ngannou has mentioned Wilder, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua as potential opponents but the chance to strike a two-fight deal in boxing and MMA might just sweeten the deal.
“I love Francis,” Wilder told Trill Boxing Talk. “When I met him at the [UFC] APEX in Vegas, we was talking about it during that time and I’m still interested in that fight. I would love to go to Africa for that one. I would love to do that one in Africa.
“I even thought about this idea. Let’s make it a two fight deal. Everybody always comes to boxing. Let’s do this — you come to my s***, I come to yours. You come to my house, I come to yours. A true tea party. I love that idea. I’m a true warrior.”
Wilder is widely regarded as the hardest puncher across all of boxing with 42 out of his 43 career wins ending by knockout. He most recently scored a win over Robert Helenius this past October with one of the most devastating finishes in 2022.
According to Wilder, he actually spoke to Ngannou about potentially facing off in a boxing match after they ran into each other at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas while he was training at the facility. Wilder added that he also spoke to UFC president Dana White about the idea, although nothing ever came to fruition while Ngannou was still under contract with the promotion.
“Me and Dana talked about it and I told him when he brought the idea to me,” Wilder said. “The whole scene is if it makes dollars, it makes sense and that’s all they need to know. I know he’s doing his own thing and I’m proud of him for following his heart.
“I’m very interested in it. If [Francis] wants to do a showdown and give some people some good fights and let’s do it. I’d love to go over there to the continent and do it. That’s going to be a Marvel fight, two big Black superheroes and let’s just be nice. I’d love to do it. I think it would be great.”
As far as his interest in crossing over to MMA, Wilder admits it’s not something he’s seriously considered for his career but he also commends fighters like Ngannou who are willing to take the risk in a boxing match so why shouldn’t he be willing to do the same in return?
“That’s something I thought about even from the first spark of the idea,” Wilder said. “I want to do something different. Since everybody is crossing between combat sports, and the MMA guys they always come to boxing.
“Of course, they ain’t got no stand up game as far as boxing is concerned so it’s always going to be more favored on the boxer’s side because you’re in our territory.”
Wilder promises that he would do everything possible to win an MMA fight against Ngannou so it wouldn’t just be about the novelty or hype to help build up a rivalry.
He respects MMA as a sport, which is why Wilder says he would seek out a top coach and team to get him ready for that move whenever it would happen.
“I know how to whoop an ass,” Wilder said with a laugh when asked if he knows how to fight in MMA. “I know how to do that. I don’t have mixed martial arts experience but of course if that happens, I’m going to get training and go from there. I wouldn’t just go in not knowing nothing. If I’m going to do it, I’m really going to put for effort.
“Cause he’s going to be training coming over where I am [in boxing]. Why would I not train in what he do? I might like the s***. I might crossover. This is my new home. I’m going to be kicking motherf****** now. For sure, I’ll get one of the best trainers out there.”
Ngannou hasn’t responded to the challenge yet but this certainly seems like a potential option that could give the ex-UFC champion exactly what he wants now that he’s available to book his next fight against whoever he wants.