In a jaw-dropping showdown that nearly witnessed one of boxing’s most stunning upsets, WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury emerged victorious over former UFC fighter Francis Ngannou in a non-title battle in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Fury, the undefeated holder of one of the sport’s most prestigious titles, narrowly dodged his first loss at the hands of a 37-year-old adversary who had never ventured into professional boxing.
However, the Cameroon-born Ngannou showcased his prowess throughout the full 10 rounds of the bout.
In round three, Ngannou sent the Briton to the canvas with a thunderous left hook, but the 35-year-old, who goes by the moniker “Gypsy King,” managed to endure the round.
Nevertheless, Fury acknowledged the unexpected turn of events, stating, “That definitely wasn’t in the script.”
“He’s a formidable fighter and a far superior boxer than we anticipated. He’s an unorthodox opponent and a formidable puncher, and I have tremendous respect for him,” Fury declared after two of the judges awarded him the victory with scores of 96-93 and 95-94. The third judge favored his Cameroon-French opponent with a score of 95-94.
While Fury confirmed the absence of a rematch clause, he expressed his desire to face Ngannou again “down the line,” following an undisputed title bout with Ukraine’s IBF, IBO, WBO, and WBA champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
The highly anticipated showdown between Fury and Usyk is slated to take place in Riyadh, with an official date yet to be announced, though both champions have mentioned December 23.
Usyk, who was present in Saudi Arabia to witness his prospective opponent, conveyed his readiness for the impending contest.
Ngannou, who relinquished his heavyweight UFC belt due to a contractual dispute, departed as a free agent in January.
“My training camp was only three and a half months, and I entered this bout with an injury. But I won’t offer excuses. I will assess how I can enhance my skills for a stronger return,” Ngannou affirmed.
“Now I know I can do this… get ready. The wolf is in the house,” he declared.