Anthony Joshua believes that a fight with Deontay Wilder can still be salvaged.

He fights the mixed martial artist Francis Ngannou on March 8 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after plans for him to finally fight his American rival were abandoned when Wilder lost to Joseph Parker in December 2023.

Wilder and Joshua had been on collision course since 2016, when Joshua first defeated Charles Martin to win the IBF heavyweight title.

Joshua’s victory in 2017 over Wladimir Klitschko then perhaps made Joshua-Wilder the most essential fight in the sport, but an inability for them to agree terms and Tyson Fury’s comeback in 2018 instead led to Wilder-Fury, and Fury surpassing both to become recognised as the finest heavyweight in the world.

Oleksandr Usyk’s successive victories over Joshua and the clamour for Fury-Usyk again contributed to Joshua-Wilder becoming in-demand, but where Joshua was supposed to defeat Otto Wallin on the same evening Wilder defeated Parker, Joshua excelled and Wilder instead unexpectedly lost, again jeopardising their best-laid plans.

According to the 34-year-old Joshua, “everything was signed and sealed”, but while Wilder’s future remains uncertain, Joshua recognises that as a heavyweight the American retains considerable value, and that a worthwhile victory for Wilder could lead to a fight between them being revived.

“It’s a fight that fans want to see,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m not saying it’s completely written off.

“It’s a fight where everything was signed and sealed. It just needed both of us to deliver. And he didn’t meet his end of the bargain.

Even if Wilder, at 38, proves to have the necessary appetite to rebuild his reputation, Joshua will first need to defeat Ngannou, who in October tested Fury to such an extent that Fury-Usyk was postponed.

The occasion represents, at the age of 37, only Ngannou’s second professional boxing match, but Joshua said: “You should always overestimate people if you want my opinion. Never underestimate anyone, always overestimate people and that way you’ll never be surprised.

“He had a good outing as well against Tyson Fury who is the current WBC champion. So I think it will be good for me to see where I’m at.

"Maybe after March 8 we’ll probably make a return to the UK. We’ll have a good window where we can get some fights in the UK possibly."