There’s been a lot of talk, stemming from Francis Ngannou’s recent failed negotiations with the UFC, about money, and contract lengths and health coverage and fighter representation. All things Francis Ngannou wanted to get from the UFC, and upon which it seems the promotion was unwilling to budge.
But there’s one other significant narrative that’s regaining life, now that the ‘Predator’ is officially no longer under contract with the world’s largest MMA promotion: Boxing.
Ngannou has made it no secret that he wanted the kind of opportunity that the UFC afforded Conor McGregor, to face one of the world’s best boxers while still at the height of their box-office marketability. A few names have been bandied about as potential opponents, but none so seriously as current heavyweight boxing king Tyson Fury.
Fury is currently in talks to face former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oeksandr Usyk sometime in 2023. Usyk now holds the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO, & Ring heavyweight titles, after jumping up a weight division back in 2020, and taking back-to-back decisions over Anthony Joshua. A bout with Fury, for Fury’s WBC belt would make Usyk an undisputed champ in two classes.
However, like all of boxing’s biggest fights, getting past the negotiation stage is often a slow and painful process. If Fury doesn’t step in the ring against the Ukrainian soon, it seems Ngannou is next on his list.
“Francis Ngannou, I know you’re out of contract with the UFC,” Fury said in an interview with Seconds Out. “You want to earn some big boy money? Come see ‘The Gypsy King’ and let’s do a big, big fight for the baddest MF on the planet.
“Let’s kick it up spicy, in a cage, four-ounce gloves under Queensbury [rules] and let’s have a badass referee like ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. Did I just sell that to the world?”
“If the contract doesn’t get signed with Usyk next for the fight of the century in boxing then we’ll do the Ngannou fight,” Fury added, noting that while negotiations with Usyk are going “really, really well,” nothing about the bout has been finalized.
“Whether it’s going to be in Las Vegas or Wembley [Stadium], who will know—we will know quite soon I think.
For his part, Ngannou seems equally gung ho on the idea. In his interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, the former UFC heavyweight champ made it known that he wants his next bout to take place in the ring, with either Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua as opponents.
“Whatever it is, if it is with Tyson Fury, I will take it. I have no problem doing boxing with 4oz gloves,” Ngannou enthused.
“We will figure it out. Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua would be my first ideal opponent.”
Obviously, there’s a whole lot of difference between fighters talking about the fights they want, and actual bout agreements coming together. But, for the moment at least, it seems that both Fury and Ngannou would like to see each other in the ring sometime in the not too distant future.
About the author: Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. Host of the MMA Vivisection and 6th Round, he has covered MMA and the UFC since 2013. (full bio)
About the author