Former undisputed WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder maintains he is still firmly interested in a boxing showdown with former undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou following the latter’s departure from the organization back in January – claiming he would also love to see the potential pairing take place in Africa.

Wilder, a former undisputed WBC heavyweight champion, snapped a run of back-to-back knockout losses to current titleholder, Tyson Fury toward the tailend of last year, defeating Robert Helenius with a thunderous first round KO at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

As for Batié native, Ngannou, the former undisputed heavyweight champion has been sidelined since UFC 270 back in January of last year, defeating then-interim division titleholder, Ciryl Gane in a unanimous decision effort in Anaheim, California.

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Undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in the immediate aftermath of his victory, Ngannou failed to return to the Octagon before his January departure from the UFC, seeing his contractual obligations with the Dana White-led promotion come to an end in December last.

Weighing up potential moves to both the PFL (Professional Fighters League) and ONE Championship in his return to mixed martial arts, Ngannou has also voiced his interest in not one, but two matchups against former WBC kingpin, Wilder.

And following months of speculation, the Tucasloosa native appears more than interested in making at least one of those bouts – possibly in Africa, a reality.

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“Most definitely, I love Francis (Ngannou),” Deontay Wilder told Trill Boxing during a recent interview. “When I met him at the UFC Apex in Vegas, he was talking about doing it that time. I’m still interested in it and I would love to go to Africa for that fight.”

“When he (Francis Ngannou) was with Dana (White), me and Dana sat down and talked about it,” Deontay Wilder explained. “When he brought the idea to me the whole saying was, ‘if it makes dollars, it makes sense.’ 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, doing what he feels.” (Transcribed by Mirror

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Deontay Wilder claims Francis Ngannou turned down MMA fight with him

However, according to Wilder, the potential of a mixed martial arts bout with Ngannou has fallen to the wayside already.

“Ngannou don’t want to do MMA,” Deontay Wilder told ESNews. “I told him we can do MMA and boxing, I want to be the first to do that, but he said he’s going to want to stick to boxing. And I mean, I respect that, he said he don’t want to break me. I always been a ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’ type of person, his power is real.” 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.