Ngannou Takes The Boxing World By Storm And Moves Into The Top Ten

Nathaniel Smith
5 min readNov 28, 2023
Ngannou connects on Fury with a powerful straight in heavyweight match. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

In a fight deemed a sizable mismatch between a boxing novice and the current WBC and Lineal Heavyweight Champion of the World, expectations for the crossover fight between mixed martial arts legend Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury were low because it was incomprehensible that a fighter without professional boxing experience could threaten and compete with the best heavyweight boxer in the world.

Pundits, fans, and fighting legends watching the fight on PPV or in the arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, were pleasantly surprised as Ngannou looked poised, strong, athletic, and sharp from the opening bell and caused Fury problems immediately after Warren Buffett introduced their names and the fight commenced.

Standing at 6 foot 9 and weighing a burly 277.7lbs, Fury overwhelms his opponents with his measurables because he generally possesses distinct reach (85 inches) and weight advantages. The reach advantage allows him to work his jab from a distance and sporadically throw devastating blows without engaging frequently in close quarters, which could make him susceptible to taking heavy damage in a fight. He uses his body by generating a clinch and putting his weight on his opponents, which wears out their legs and stamina throughout a grueling boxing fight. Against the Cameroonian fighter Ngannou, who possesses the body of a mythical god standing at 6 foot 4, having an impressive 83-inch reach, and weighing 272 pounds of muscle with a low body fat percentage, Fury could not physically impose himself and often struggled in every clinch situation during the fight.

Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou showcasing their frames at the weigh-in prior to the fight. Photo Credit: Getty Images.

The first two rounds of the fight were competitive as both fighters were surveying and being methodical before attacking. Near the end of the third round, Fury pounced on Ngannou, throwing a left hook and straight combination that nearly landed cleanly on Ngannou. Thinking his inexperience would plague him during the fight, Fury sloppily repeated the same sequence and unexpectedly got countered with a powerful left hook by Ngannou that dropped the British champion and left him bewildered. Fury has been knocked down seven times throughout his professional career but has never lost. Fury demonstrated his championship resolve by continuing the fight but quickly realized he was in for a long night with Ngannou, who showed high-level boxing ability and graceful footwork. Ngannou constantly rotated between the orthodox and southpaw stance to confuse and make things difficult for Fury in the middle rounds. In the eighth round, Ngannou mixed up his combinations using jabs, uppercuts, and punches to the body to disorient Fury. It was successful because the champion did not have an answer for Ngannou’s tactics and aggression, and the MMA legend started to separate himself in the fight by earning a decisive round. The momentum turned back in favor of Fury, who bounced back and made the final two boxing rounds debatable, with a high possibility of claiming them both as Ngannou started to lose steam down the stretch.

Ngannou knocks down Fury in the third round. Top Rank.

After ten rounds, the verdict was in the hands of three judges. They came up with a split decision after careful deliberation. Ed Garner (Canada) scored the fight 95–94 in favor of Ngannou, and Juan Carlos Pelayo (Mexico)/ Alan Krebs (USA) scored in favor of Fury 96–93 and 95–94. The verdict was not well received by many fans, boxers, and analysts because they felt Ngannou did enough to secure a decision victory after winning multiple rounds and earning a knockdown in the fight. Some people even questioned the integrity of the judging and possible corruption because a loss by Fury would be an embarrassment in boxing. After all, an MMA fighter should not be able to survive a boxing march without any prior experience in the discipline. Also, a loss by Fury could have jeopardized the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship match set for December 23rd in Saudi Arabia but postponed to February 17th, 2024, because of the injuries Fury sustained in a battle with Francis Ngannou.

Despite the outcome, Ngannou received an outpour of support from his family and friends in attendance. Former UFC comrades Kamaru Usman and Israel Adesanya accompanied Francis in the pre-fight walkout in Saudi Arabia, where they provided Francis with unwavering support as he prepared for the fight of his career. The presence of his family in attendance from Cameroon helped energize Ngannou. However, the ultimate difference maker for his success was the wisdom and encouragement of boxing great Mike Tyson, who marveled at Ngannou’s punching power over the years but was able to teach him the fine details and nuances of boxing in brief training sessions. Tyson joined a coaching staff that consisted of Dewey Cooper and Erik Nicksick, and the combined intel of those three men created a strong nucleus for Ngannou. With the combined intellect of the coaches and support from all of his peers and family in attendance, Francis took the sporting world by storm and helped cement the validity of mixed martial arts striking.

Boxing legend Mike Tyson celebrating with Francis Ngannou after a stellar performance against Tyson Fury.

With the brilliant performance, the World Boxing Council has placed Francis Ngannou in the top ten of their ranking system after defying the odds by all the naysayers and critics who looked at the fight as a sideshow event instead of a sanctioned boxing match. Ngannou will look to compete against the likes of Oleksandr Usyk, Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua, who are among the boxing heavyweight elites in the future. Now he can relish the moment knowing that he is one of combat sports greatest heavyweights in all disciplines of fighting after conquering mixed martial arts and having a debatable contest with Tyson Fury, one of the greatest heavyweight boxers in this era.

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Nathaniel Smith

Striving to reach my full potential.. BA in Communications and Digital Media... passionate about writing ✍️ music 🎶 .. anime.. sports 🏀 justice ⚖️ equality