Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou fight: The pros and cons of this crossover superfight



The combat sports world was rocked by the announcement that WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will face former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in the boxing ring on Oct. 28 in Saudi Arabia. A showdown between the baddest men in their respective sports is certainly enough to get any fight fan’s imagination racing.

Fury is undefeated in his professional career and is considered the best heavyweight boxer on the planet. Ngannou walked away from the UFC as heavyweight champion, choosing to bet on himself that more lucrative fights could be had outside the Octagon. Rather than face off against someone in their respective sports, the two men now face each other in a fight that will have the fight world talking and theorizing for months.

While there is plenty to get excited about with this fight, there are also some obvious negatives. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to this crossover superfight.

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Pro: Francis Ngannou secured the bag

It’s hard to name many fighters with a better story than Ngannou and that has made him a respected and favored fighter among peers and fans alike. Becoming a free agent because he felt the UFC was not offering him a contract that matched his worth was an obvious risk. There were no “big fights” in MMA available outside the UFC, but Ngannou’s departure opened the door to make good on his lifelong dream of boxing.

We’d seen Ngannou and Fury tease a fight for some time, but the logistics always seemed a bit sticky, especially on the financial end. Enter Saudi Arabian money — which certainly causes many some discomfort — at a period where Fury does not have a mandatory challenger for his WBC title and everything was able to come together. While financial specifics have not been revealed about this fight, it’s clear Ngannou’s risk was entirely worth it. Ngannou bet on his own value and won.

Con: What does this do for Tyson Fury?

Fury is, by all measures, the best heavyweight boxer of his generation. The problem is, Fury’s generation doesn’t have the depth of great fighters of eras past. That is why it has been so important to so many to see Fury attempt to become the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era by taking on IBF, WBO and WBA champion Oleksandr Usyk. Even a fight with Anthony Joshua — who has twice lost to Usyk — for the “biggest fight in British boxing history” would have carried some meaning for Fury’s legacy.

After ugly, bad-faith negotiations for fights with Usyk and Joshua, Fury is now fighting someone who has never boxed as a professional. Yes, Ngannou is a big name and the fight is big business because of it. But Fury proves nothing by facing Ngannou in the boxing ring, just as he proved nothing by facing Derek Chisora in his most recent outing. Fury is not doing his legacy any favors by not taking the riskiest fights possible at the peak of his fame.

Pro: A never-before-seen showdown

While this fight likely does nothing for either man’s legacy in their respective sport, it’s impossible to overlook the curiosity factor. For as long as MMA has existed, there’s been something of a natural rivalry between the two sports. Most of the time, that rivalry has hinged on nonsense arguments from both sides rooted in a lack of interest or knowledge in the other.

Throughout the years, we have seen plenty of crossover fights featuring boxers taking on mixed martial artists. From Randy Couture’s embarrassing throttling of James Toney at UFC 118, to former UFC champion Tim Sylvia being knocked out in 10 seconds by Ray Mercer at Adrenaline MMA III, to Vitor Belfort battering an elderly Evander Holyfield, to the megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, and so on.

What we have never seen, however, is the consensus best fighters in the heavyweight division facing off in the ring. There has always been a natural allure to heavyweights with champions considered the baddest man on the planet. Mayweather vs. McGregor was a battle of elites in their sport and was the biggest business fight possible. While Fury vs. Ngannou won’t reach the financial heights of that fight, it does hold intrigue that only heavyweights can provide. Fury and Ngannou both hit hard and can end a fight at any second, which should have fans on the edge of their seats for however long the contest lasts.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor was the last time we saw a crossover fight of this magnitude.
USATSI

Con: Does Ngannou have more than a puncher’s chance?

When considering the aforementioned intrigue produced by two heavy-handed heavyweights, one also has to consider that there is very little intrigue should a straight boxing match break out. In a firefight, with both men throwing bombs, Ngannou could absolutely land a flush shot that rattles Fury. Of course, Deontay Wilder, one of the hardest pound-for-pound punchers in boxing history, was able to drop Fury multiple times and not keep him down.

If Fury decides he has no interest in standing flat in front of Ngannou, Ngannou is in for a long night. Fury’s defensive tactics have befuddled lifelong boxers who compete at the highest level in the sport. Knowing that, what can Ngannou really do if he can’t land a bomb? And can he land a bomb that hurts Fury more than Wilder’s did across three fights?

A puncher’s chance is a chance, but this fight could — and likely will — turn into a one-sided affair in Fury’s favor.





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