Dillian Whyte is back in demand following his majority decision win against Jermaine Franklin in November.
Although Whyte is a frontrunner to face Anthony Joshua in a rematch sometime in 2023, he’s also interested in fighting a former heavyweight champion from a completely different sport.
In an interview with Sky Sports, the 35-year-old Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) called for a boxing match with former UFC kingpin Francis Ngannou.
"I would love to fight him,” said Whyte. "Obviously he is a champion, a dangerous guy, but I think I would bash him up. It would be a very interesting fight, because we both have got a martial arts background and he's up for jumping in at the deep end, fighting someone like me. It would get lots of interest and eyeballs.”
The Cameroonian-French fighter Ngannou (17-3, 12 KOs MMA) is no longer contractually tied to the UFC and can continue his career in any direction he’d like.
Ngannou has long been wanting to partake in a boxing match.
The 36-year-old has been on the shortlist to fight Tyson Fury ever since the WBC heavyweight champion knocked out Whyte in April.
"Fans around the world would be keen to see it because he is a former UFC champion coming to face a top heavyweight like me. These guys know there is more money to make in boxing than there is in MMA,” said Whyte.
"It would be good to become a champion across two sports – something I wanted to do as well – so I can understand him having a massive drive to do something like that.”
The Buddy McGirt-trained Whyte is no stranger to MMA.
In 2008, he fought in the only MMA bout of his career and scored a 12-second knockout against Mark Stroud in London.
"A lot of these boxing guys pick on these MMA and martial arts guys and beat them up in a boxing ring, but they are not brave enough to get in the cage. I would happily fight him in boxing and in the cage as well,” said Whyte.
"It is much easier to knock people out with four-ounce gloves that have next to no padding. Can he do the same with a 10-ounce boxing glove? I know I can."
Whyte said he’d be open to the possible matchup during the window of late-March and early-April.
“That would give him plenty of time for a full camp,” said Whyte. "It would be a fair fight. He would have time to train. I would have time to train, and we would put on a very good boxing fight.
"I believe in myself, I know what I'm capable of.
"Obviously he's a good fighter, he's strong, but there are a lot of holes in his game. He is throwing from far away, he is a slugger. In MMA, that style runs, because you have small gloves and you just need to connect anywhere with someone to do damage.
"But this is boxing. You need skills and good timing. He can't just come out and start slugging and think he can knock people out.
"A guy standing in front of him can make him miss. All those punches he throws. He's dangerous and a big strong guy, but it's a great fight for me, to be honest."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.