Getty Images

Francis Ngannou is not taking the easy route to boxing superstardom. Ngannou, boxing for the second time in his professional career, meets former two-time unified heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua in Riyadh on Friday.

Ngannou nearly upset WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury in the former UFC champ’s boxing debut in October. It was an unfathomable performance that immediately put Ngannou among the elite in heavyweight boxing. Joshua is the next immense obstacle for Ngannou to overcome. Joshua has rehabilitated his image nicely after consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk. He looked most rejuvenated in December by stopping Otto Wallin in five rounds. It’s a major spectacle that could propel Ngannou’s Cinderella story or Joshua’s resurrection to a title shot.

“I really think I haven’t shocked the world,” Ngannou said at this week’s final press conference. “I have served in the factory building, training and learning. When I am really going to get it, that’s when the world is going to be shocked. I’m just working and learning about this sport that I have loved my entire life. I hadn’t had the opportunity to really do it and get the experience. Now that I have, I can put something really, really nice. I trust the process and trust my team. It’s going to pay off.”

Friday features another heavyweight showdown with title implications. Joseph Parker, coming off an impressive win over Deontay Wilder in December, is back in an interesting matchup on Friday when he takes on WBO interim titleholder Zhilei Zhang. The winner of that matchup could earn a shot against Fury or Usyk later this year. The undercard also sees another title throwdown when Rey Vargas looks to defend his WBC featherweight crown against Nick Ball. And the vacant WBA super welterweight title is at stake when Israil Madrimov takes on Magomed Kubranov.

Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of Joshua vs. Ngannou from Saudi Arabia on Friday night.

The action gets underway at 11 a.m. ET on DAZN pay-per-view. The full fight card with odds and complete viewing information is listed below.

Viewing information

  • Date: March 8 | Start time: 11 a.m. ET (main event around 6 p.m. ET)
  • Location: Kingdom Arena — Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • How to watch: DAZN PPV ($39.99)

Joshua vs. Ngannou fight card, odds

Anthony Joshua -345 Francis Ngannou +270 Heavyweights
Nick Ball -190 Rey Vargas (c) +158 WBC featherweight title
Zhilei Zhang (c) -240 Joseph Parker +196 WBO interim heavyweight title
Israil Madrimov -400 Magomed Kurbanov +310 Lightweights

Who wins Francis Ngannou vs. Anthony Joshua, and which props paying around +400 should you be all over? Visit SportsLine now to see Brandon Wise’s best bets for Friday, all from the CBS combat sports specialist who just called Jake Paul’s first-round win, and find out.