In a non-title bout that had the world of combat sports buzzing, WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury narrowly secured a split decision victory against former UFC fighter Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, October 29.
The fight delivered a thrilling spectacle that many felt could have ended in one of boxing’s biggest upsets.
Fury, the undefeated holder of the esteemed WBC heavyweight belt, found himself on the brink of his first defeat at the hands of the 37-year-old Ngannou, who had never stepped into a professional boxing ring before.
Despite his inexperience, Ngannou showcased impressive swagger and resilience as he went the full 10 rounds with the “Gypsy King.”
In a pivotal moment during the fight, Ngannou sent Fury to the canvas in the third round with a powerful left hook. Although Fury, 35, managed to survive the round, there was no denying the challenge that lay before him.
The judges’ verdict was split, with one scoring the fight 95-94 in favor of Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion. However, their tallies were overruled by two judges who scored it 96-93 and 95-94 in favor of Fury.
It’s worth noting that Fury’s WBC heavyweight title was not on the line in this 10-round boxing match, as it was a non-title fight. For Ngannou, it marked his professional boxing debut, his first fight since January 2022.
Fury, hailing from England, entered the match as a significant favorite with odds of 14-1, setting the stage for a potential undisputed heavyweight championship clash with Oleksandr Usyk.
While Fury secured the win, it was widely considered one of the “worst performances of his career,” according to sports commentators.
Throughout the bout, Fury appeared perplexed, struggling to find an effective approach against Ngannou, who demonstrated impeccable timing.
Ngannou’s left hook in the third round, leading to the knockdown, marked the seventh time Fury had been down in his career. Nevertheless, he exhibited his resilience by beating the count, as he had done on six previous occasions.
Despite the thrilling contest, some within the boxing community have raised suspicions about the fight’s integrity, alleging that it was rigged in Fury’s favor.
As for a potential rematch, Fury mentioned that there was no clause for one, but he expressed interest in fighting Ngannou again “down the line” following an undisputed title bout with Ukraine’s IBF, IBO, WBO, and WBA champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
The rematch between Fury and Usyk is scheduled to take place in Riyadh on December 23, although an official announcement of the date is still pending.
Usyk, who was present in Saudi Arabia to witness his future opponent’s performance, confirmed his readiness.
Ngannou, who vacated his UFC heavyweight belt earlier in the year due to a contract dispute, expressed his determination to improve and return stronger, stating, “Now I know I can do this… get ready. The wolf is in the house.”
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