Anthony Joshua is determined to prove he is the UK’s best heavyweight when he faces Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on March 8.
The Brit goes into the clash on the back of knocking out Otto Wallin last month, while 37-year-old Ngannou lost a controversial split decision to WBC champion Tyson Fury in October.
Joshua, 34, was on course for a showdown with Deontay Wilder until the American’s shock defeat to Joseph Parker, but he is relishing the prospect of facing ex-UFC heavyweight star Ngannou and further elevating his status at home.
Speaking at the launch press conference in London, the two-time champ said, “I’ve seen people like him many times before. It’s just his mind that I will have to conquer in the ring.
“You have to take someone’s soul and their spirit, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s going to be good. It’s going to be explosive; there are many ways to skin a cat.
“I can counterpunch; he can counterpunch. We can both box, as he’s proven. We can both trade, and it’s going to be a good, good fight.
“Shout out to my promoter and my team for getting me in this position to showcase why I’m the top heavyweight in the UK.
“I’m not really too concerned about the world. I’m trying to conquer where I live and make everyone know I’m the one who puts boxing on the map.”
Ngannou was also in high spirits and claimed he would put Joshua’s defences to the test.
He said, “I have the tools, and it starts against AJ. I’m going to look for his chin.
“In a fight, you try to hit them in the chin. I’ve heard he doesn’t have a chin, but we’re going to find out.”
Joshua’s bout against Ngannou is the headline act of a mouthwatering card in Riyadh.
Another huge heavyweight clash will see Parker take on China’s Zhilei Zhang for the WBO’s interim belt.
And promoter Eddie Hearn believes AJ will finish the night with his hand raised to secure a showdown with Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk, who collide with all four major heavyweight titles on the line next month.
Hearn said, “I truly believe he will finish his career as an undisputed heavyweight champion.”