SHOULD, as expected, Anthony Joshua defeat Francis Ngannou on Friday (March 8), his promoter Eddie Hearn says the next fight for the 34-year-old will involve at least one of the four heavyweight belts.

Joshua is in Riyadh this week for a unique crossover fight which pits the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist against the former UFC heavyweight champion. The 10-round contest is the latest installment of Riyadh Season which has featured some of the world’s best heavyweights fighting in the Middle East over the last six months.

Joshua-Ngannou follows Ngannou’s narrow points defeat to WBC heavyweight belt holder Tyson Fury last October, a fight in which the Cameroonian impressed, particularly when knocking down the 6ft 9ins giant in the third round.

Defeat for Joshua is unthinkable but an impressive victory for AJ will see him fight once again for a world heavyweight strap, according to Hearn.

“Worst-case scenario, AJ will be fighting for the world title next, but I believe you could see him straight in for the undisputed,” Hearn told Boxing News.

Fury will square off against Oleksandr Usyk for all four heavyweight belts on May 18 in Riyadh. The fight had been scheduled to take place last month but was postponed after Fury suffered a cut during a sparring session.

A rematch clause is rumoured to be in place for the May showdown allowing the loser to trigger a return bout. But Hearn says if there is a chance that a fight between Joshua and his long-time rival Fury can be made then that could take precedence over a second fight between Fury and Usyk.

“Let’s be honest [you can have] as many rematch clauses as you want [but] you know that if AJ knocks out Ngannou and Fury beats Usyk His Excellency (Turki Alalshikh) will have the opportunity to make the biggest fight in the sport, one of the biggest fights in the history of the sport [and] it’ll be very difficult for him not to do it,” he said.

“We’ve been told that if we beat Ngannou we’ll get the undisputed shot, that was prior to the Fury cut. If we have to fight [Filip] Hrgovic in the meantime for the world title no problem as well.”

Hrgovic is currently the IBF mandatory challenger and is waiting in line for his own opportunity. Joshua is the next highest-ranked contender at three and should the IBF title become vacant after May 18 for whatever reason then Hrgovic vs. Joshua may be ordered by the sanctioning body.