In a stunning turn of events, Tyson Fury found himself weathering a third-round knockdown to narrowly edge past Francis Ngannou via a split decision on Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
One judge scored the bout 95-94 in favor of Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, but was overruled by tallies of 96-93 and 95-94 for Fury. Notably, Fury’s WBC heavyweight title wasn’t at stake in the 10-round boxing match. Ngannou, making his professional boxing debut, displayed unexpected resilience despite facing off against the favored Fury.
The highly anticipated Fury-Usyk showdown, touted as a monumental event in boxing, is set for December 23 in Riyadh. However, given Fury’s injuries sustained during the match with Ngannou, uncertainties loom over whether the fight will proceed as planned.
While Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs) was anticipated to dominate Ngannou, the match culminated in a hard-fought decision. Despite his victory, Fury expressed his respect for Ngannou’s skill, acknowledging the challenger’s ability to present one of his most formidable challenges in the past decade.
Ngannou, known for his formidable punching power in mixed martial arts, exceeded expectations in his transition to the boxing ring, displaying impressive timing and an effective jab, which kept Fury at bay throughout the match.
Fury, who experienced moments of confusion during the bout, acknowledged Ngannou’s unexpected prowess, admitting, “He’s a very awkward man and he’s a good puncher, and I respect him a lot… He’s given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years.”
Ngannou, despite falling short in the match, embraced the experience, emphasizing his readiness to improve and potentially rematch Fury in the future. The Cameroonian fighter, who recently departed from UFC, demonstrated a commendable performance in his first foray into professional boxing, setting the stage for potential future bouts with the likes of Wilder, Joshua, and Ruiz Jr.
As both fighters prepare for their upcoming battles, the boxing world anticipates the unfolding of a captivating narrative, ripe with potential rematches and high-stakes matchups that could redefine the landscape of the sport. With Fury’s impending clash with Usyk on the horizon, the boxing community eagerly awaits the outcome of what promises to be a monumental encounter between two formidable heavyweights.