NEW YORK -- Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn didn't rule out the possibility of a future fight between former boxing heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, he told ESPN on Thursday.
Joshua has a fight against Jermaine Franklin on April 1, sources told ESPN's Mike Coppinger, and Hearn said there will be a news conference next week to announce Joshua's next fight.
What happens beyond Franklin is where it gets interesting and could open up a path to Joshua against Ngannou, who left the UFC last month.
"A lot of people talk about Francis Ngannou," Hearn said. "... AJ against Francis Ngannou is just a massive event. The focus for Anthony Joshua is to become world heavyweight champion again, and Francis Ngannou is not the pathway to that.
"But at the same time, we don't mind looking at the fight. It's a huge event."
Hearn said if a world title fight materialized for Joshua, that would take precedence over a potential fight against Ngannou. He also mentioned Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte as potential opponents for Joshua after Franklin should Joshua win that fight.
Hearn said Joshua is focused on "legacy" and getting his belts back. But if that were to be a stalled option -- Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk have all four heavyweight titles and are in talks for a fight in late April -- then a potential fight between two of the biggest stars in the heavyweight divisions of combat sports would be an option.
"He's certainly not going to take the Francis Ngannou fight over a world title opportunity," Hearn said. "But if that wasn't there and it was a chance to do a big event in the summer, I think he would definitely look at it."
The 33-year-old Joshua (24-3, 22 KO boxing) has lost his last two fights, both to Usyk. The only other loss of his career came to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019, and Joshua won the rematch. The 36-year-old Ngannou (17-3, 12 KO MMA) last fought in the UFC in January 2022, when he beat Ciryl Gane in the first -- and now only -- defense of his UFC title.
Fury and Ngannou have also expressed interest in fighting one another.