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JEFF POWELL: Tyson Fury embroiled in war of words with Francis Ngannou after gatecrashing Saudi royal palace reception… but Anthony Joshua tells UFC legend: 'Get used to it. It's all part of the fun'

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  • Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou face-off in Saudi Arabia on Friday night
  • Tyson Fury has revealed he’s likely to face the winner of the bout in 2025 
  • Joshua stands to bank £39MILLION from his Ngannou clash in Riyadh

Tyson Fury is not actually boxing here this Friday night but ever the showman he has dragged Anthony Joshua‘s imminent opponent into a war of words.

For his trouble Fury was warned by Francis Ngannou, who knocked the Gypsy King down here in October and came achingly close to beating him, was warned by the UFC legend not to mess with him outside the ring.

Joshua looked on with amusement at a Saudi royal palace reception as Fury accused Ngannou of calling him a coward.

‘1 would never do that,’ said Ngannou. ‘What I said was that I beat you that night and you know it.

‘And be sure that if we ever fight in the street or anywhere else outside the boxing ring you will be in serious trouble.’

Tyson Fury was embroiled in war of words with Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on Wednesday

Tyson Fury was embroiled in war of words with Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on Wednesday

Anthony Joshua (L) and Ngannou (R) are set to face off inside the boxing ring on Friday night

Anthony Joshua (L) and Ngannou (R) are set to face off inside the boxing ring on Friday night

Fury's rearranged bout with Uysk will go ahead on May 18, with their rematch later this year

Fury’s rearranged bout with Uysk will go ahead on May 18, with their rematch later this year

That does count as an insult when levelled at a man born into the Traveller fighting tradition.

But Ngannou went on: ‘We are going to run this back (in a rematch). And with what I learned from our first fight and what I will learn against Joshua now I will beat you every day from Monday to Sunday and twice on Sunday.’

AJ was standing closer to a celebrity from another sport, Cristiano Ronaldo, as Tyson snapped back but as he looked on he came to a surprising conclusion.

If Joshua beats Ngannou and Fury becomes the undisputed world heavyweight champion by defeating Oleksandr Usyk in May, then the great British rivals will be on course to fight each other at last.

The long wait has soured their relationship, with Fury deriding Joshua, who has at times been irritated.

But AJ says now: ‘Watching Fury go on like that I saw that it’s all a big bluff. It doesn’t mean you hate each other. It doesn’t mean anything about how you will fight each other.

‘I just stood my corner and kept calm . I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve come to realise now that slagging each other off is just a fun part of the job. Francis will just have to get used to it.’

More important to the matter immediately at hand is how much Ngannou learned from his close encounter with Fury