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Francis Ngannou targeting 2023 for return, says boxing goals arent influenced by Tyson Fury

Francis Ngannou echoed what of coach Eric Nicksick on Friday, revealing a return in late 2022 is probable no option because the UFC heavyweight champion continues to recuperate from March surgery to correct his right ACL and MCL following his latest title defense.

I’d think similar to the start of next year [to return], because Im five-and-a-half months post-surgery, and Im not so strong on that knee yet, Ngannou told ESPN before UFC Paris. And observe how heavy I’m, thats something I must say i need to consider my weight which division and how it really is. When I get back to Vegas in the U.S., I believe Im seeing the physician in a few days or something similar to that, so Im likely to have his opinion and I simply need to keep [doing] the physical therapy.

They both need to be in [agreement] to when I will at the very least start training merely to get a lean body, then well be [able] to take into account a fight.

Ngannou, 35, has been sidelined since Januarys UFC 270 event, which saw him defeat UFC Paris headliner Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision in a title unification match.

The Predator said Friday he is currently struggling to train and contains an extended road still before him to get back to fighting shape.

Previously seven months I havent really done anything, so Im sort of very out of shape very out of shape, probably the most that Ive ever been, Ngannou said.

Nicksick, Ngannous head coach, recently told MMA Fighting that the team believes early 2023 to function as probably target for Ngannous return, plus they still covet a potential fight Jon Jones, the former UFC light heavyweight champion who’s likely to make his heavyweight debut prior to the end of 2022.

The fight which makes probably the most sense is actually Jon Jones, Nicksick said. Thats the fight most of us want.

But Ngannous future is still up in the air.

He’s got experienced a much-publicized standoff with the UFC since his victory over Gane, and his management team at CAA have maintained their belief that Ngannou could enter free agency in the beginning of 2023, whether or not he fights in the UFC again.

Ngannou has spoken openly of his need to box and also made a surprise appearance in the ring following Tyson Furys victory over Dillian Whyte in April.

Furys status continues to be a question mark aswell the heavyweight champion has alternated between retiring and calling out opponents lately but Ngannou reiterated on Friday that his goals in boxing will remain the same whether or not Fury is involved.

My career doesnt be determined by Tyson Fury or other people, Ngannou said. My desire of boxing doesnt be determined by Tyson Fury. So whether hes retired or not, Im still likely to do this. I still want a boxing match in my own career, several boxing matches, and thats something Im likely to take part in conversations [about] as it pertains as soon as.

I dont know [if thatll maintain the UFC], this will depend. We havent had a genuine talk, but if boxing can occur in the UFC aswell we havent had the true talk, lets observe how it plays. Im available to any option. But what I know for certain is that Im likely to do this damn boxing.

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