WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury beat former UFC fighter Francis Ngannou on a split decision in a non-title fight in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, October 29, that almost delivered one of boxing’s biggest upsets as many felt Ngannou deserved the win.
Fury, the unbeaten holder of one of the sport’s most prestigious belts, narrowly avoided a first defeat at the hands of a 37-year-old opponent who had never boxed professionally before but went through the full 10 rounds with some swagger.
Ngannou dropped the Briton to the canvas in round three with a left hook and although the 35-year-old self-styled “Gypsy King” was able to see out the round he had no doubts about what he was up against.
One judge scored it 95-94 for Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, but was overruled by tallies of 96-93 and 95-94 for Fury. Fury’s WBC heavyweight title wasn’t on the line in the 10-round boxing match. Ngannou was making his pro boxing debut in his first fight since January 2022.
England’s Fury was installed as a 14-1 favourite to win the match and move on to an undisputed heavyweight championship fight against Oleksandr Usyk. And now Fury will, though he’ll do so after arguably the ‘’worst performance of his career,” sports commentators said
Fury seemed confused throughout the bout, unsure how to attack Ngannou, who possessed surprising timing. He clipped Fury with a left hook on the temple in Round 3 for the knockdown, the seventh of Fury’s career. But just like the previous six times — including four total in his heavyweight title trilogy with Deontay Wilder — Fury beat the count.
A lot of boxing have however opined that the match was rigged in favour of Fury.
Fury said there was no rematch clause but he would like to fight Ngannou again “down the line” after an undisputed title fight with Ukraine’s IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk.
The pair are set to meet in Riyadh at a date yet to be announced officially but that both champions said will be Dec. 23.
Usyk, who was in Saudi Arabia to watch his future opponent, said he was ready.
Ngannou vacated his heavyweight belt after a contract dispute with UFC and exited as a free agent in January.
“My training camp was only three and a half months and I came into this with an injury. But I don’t want to give excuses. I will look at what I can do next to improve my game to come back even better,” he said.
“Now I know I can do this…, get ready. The wolf is in the house.”