WBC and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury are set to stake on former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou on October 28th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Despite much online speculation about the implementation of strict hybrid style rules and an agreement not to go too hard on each other it has now been reported that the bout will take place in a regulation professional boxing ring with three judges using the traditional 10-point must system. As of yet, the number of rounds has not been reported or verified and though Fury’s WBC championship will not be up for grabs we still don’t know if this bout will count on the two behemoths boxing records or lack of regarding Ngannou.
This fight, if you can even call it that is truly nothing more than a side show. It sounds great, two theme park monsters colliding in the furnace like deserts of the Middle East surrounded by billionaire sheiks and Saudi Royalty, a marketing teams dream. The only problem is one of the monsters isn’t a boxer, nor has he ever boxed.
Francis Ngannnou may be a great mixed martial artist and incredible athletic specimen but he is a pugilistic newborn. No one truly believes he can win or indeed land a single blow of consequence on Fury but of course we are hearing the same old painful arguments that surrounded Mayweather versus McGregor, the very circus that started this crossover trend. Some pundits suggesting he’ll show Fury angles he’s never seen before and his erratic movement will throw the Brit off. It’s all a bit vague.
The only argument that can possibly be made for the Ghanaian brute is that he does possess incredible power, with 12 of his 17 MMA victories coming via knockout. The problem being, that was all in the octagon wearing MMA gloves. As we saw when Connor McGregor boxed, he just could not generate power in boxing gloves, properly utilising 10oz gloves is a skill in itself that most MMA fighters understandably never learn. Does anyone who knows anything about boxing really believe that Ngannou can hit harder than Wladimir Klitschko or Deontay Wilder, especially when he’s got Fury dancing around him like a giant middleweight and expect Fury to carry his man rather than blasting him out early.
The what could haves and what should off’s are on every boxing fan’s mind. Fury should be boxing Usyk or at the very least the next best available challenger. Instead, he chose the money, that makes sense he is after all a prize-fighter but he is not getting any younger and neither is the Ukrainian savant. That’s the fight that boxing fans deserved, instead we get this cynical corporate cash grab designed to drive engagement numbers and bait some online clicks. 2023 is another limp year for the British heavyweights. But at least we have Joshua versus Whyte 2 to look forward to.