Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou may turn out to be a big circus, but the card is filled out by legitimate boxing fights, at least some of them with real significance. Chief among them is this Fury-Ngannou co-main, as reigning British heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley defends his belt against challenger David Adeleye.
It may not be a world title, but make no mistake: as one of the oldest- and smartest-looking- belts in boxing, the British title carries prestige for UK fighters. It’s also a good bar to set- if you can’t compete at British level you won’t have a chance against a world level opponent. If you can, you might. So there’s a lot at stake here.
The champion, Wardley (16-0-0, 15KOs), has not taken the normal route to get here. He came to boxing late, starting in white collar events before turning pro with no amateur career or real schooling. In the six years since, he’s worked his way from being backup on tiny local shows to… well, British champion and events like this.
That late start shows in his somewhat raw style, which has left him facing adversity before- but his response to being hurt has so far always been to bite down and hurt his opponent back pretty much immediately. He welcomes the fight, and that combined with his considerable power and speed makes him exciting.
Adeleye (12-0, 11 KOs) has taken a more traditional road- a former amateur who’s been working his way up the small-hall shows since turning pro in 2017. He’s visibly more schooled than Wardley, but at this point less proven- so the question is if his more polished skillset can overcome the explosiveness of the champion.
There appears to be bad blood too. It’s hard to say for sure since there’s always some jawing in the buildup to these things, but the talking spilled over into a scrap at a press event a few weeks ago. Adeleye jumped in on a Wardley interview to shove the champion, leading to a brawl between their retinues that left Wardley cut. Thankfully, that apparently wasn’t serious enough to postpone the fight, so they can settle their differences in a legitimate way here.
Join me for my live round-by-round coverage of the British title fight below.
Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou, undercard: How to watch, live stream
The Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou card is available in the US as an ESPN+ PPV, in the UK as a TNT Sport PPV, and in most other territories on DAZN- also as a pay-per-view. The card starts at 1PM ET (6PM British time) with the Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou main event expected at 5:40pm ET (10.40pm British time).
That means you can expect Wardley vs Adeleye about an hour before that main event, though it won’t be precisely set so stay tuned here to find out when it gets going.
Update: The Parker vs Kean fight is done, so we’re up next. Based on the pacing, you can expect it sometime in the next 20 minutes, though maybe they’ll start upping the pace of the show as we get closer to the main event.
Update: Alright, we’re live.
Fabio Wardley vs. David Adeleye play-by-play
Round 1: A note: Fabio Wardley walked out to Roy Jones Jr’s ‘Can’t Be Touched’. This was a lie. He is many things, but evasive is not one of them. Anyway, the fighters didn’t want to touch gloves as the fight began (in boxing it’s usually required). Adeleye starts with some heavy jabs and left-hand hooks, but also flinching a bit from Wardley’s own feints. Wardley trying some big overhand rights, does need to be aware of the counters. Also trying some reaching rights to the body. Honestly, early doors, Adeleye is smiling but looks like he’s concerened about the speed. Does manage to intercept a Wardley lunge with a jab though. Wardley starts throwing in combination a bit more in the final minute, all the pressure is coming from him. Back to caution a the round ends but still pressing. Adeleye lands a big shot but Wardley responds with jabs then another combination as the round ends. 10-9 Wardley
Round 2: The work Adeleye did do in the first wasn’t innefective, but he didn’t do a lot. He opens by catching Wardley with a lead hook. The second effort was wilder and missed badly, though. Then they clinch and Wardley lands a shot or two before the ref breaks them. A neat feint upstairs lets Wardley lands to the body, but then he walks on to a body shot. They clinch up and both land. The nex minute or so is spent mostly jabbing. Wardley the busier but again Adeleye intercepts a lunge. Now Wardley is starting to slip that punch. Ref warns Adeleye for elbows in the clinch. Big counter right for Wardley then body jabs. And another right. Once again, Adeleye had a few sharp shots but just needs to be doing more., 10-9 Wardley, though that round’s tight, 20-18.
Round 3: Third round opens a bit wild, and the ref has to intervene as Adeleye throws an elbow again, and shoves Wardley off with it. Another intercepting jab. Catches Wardley moving with a right, They eschange in close, Wardley takes a solid shot but no sells it, meanwhile he’s going to work. Big right sails way wide. Another intercepting jab. Wardley looping his lead hand around the guard. Then a big right round the guard. Adeleye really needs to close the rounds stronger, he’s been doing good work then letting Wardley work the final minute almost unnoposed. 10-9 Wardley, 30-27
Round 4: This round opens slower. Then a jab to the chest from Wardley sees Adeleye leaping forward to respond and needing Wardley to catch him. Another quick combination. ONe attack is intercepted, but again, only single shots from Wardley. A leaping double jab sends Adeleye to the ropes, follows up with bodyshots. A huge counter attempt misses. Adeleye isn’t hurt but he doesn’t lok like he loves it here. Another exchange sees Adeleye land one big, Wardley a couple. Story of the fight, really. 10-9 Wardley, 40-36. None of these rounds are wide, it could easily be very different, but for me Adeleye just needs to do a bit more.
Round 5: Round opens with another messy exchange and the ref pauses it to tell them both off. Wardley getting more confident with the jab, really snapping Adeleye’s head back with regularity. If Adeleye starts losing that battle he’s in trouble big. Does land a big bodyshot in response to some shots he blocks though. Now Wardley jabs the body. Adeleye snaps Wardley’s head back in turn. But now Wardley starts leaning around and takes some silly shots. Responds in kind, but that’s the first real damage Adeleye’s dealt with more than one punch. Can maybe give this round to him, though he takes a big couple shots to end it. 10-9 Adeleye, 49-46
Round 6: Wardley starts getting a bit silly again and Adeleye answers well, but then brings the elbow in again. Ref gives him a final final warning. Wardley needs to be careful but that break helped him. Back to a more patient approach. This round is a lot slower, Wardley jabbing patiently. Leans in to the body, avoids a counter uppercut. Finishes with some stinging jabs. 10-9 Wardley, 59-55
Round 7: Jabs again, then that elbow again. They break and Warldey lands jabs again. Starting to dominate with that punch. Adeleye realises it and starts, for the first time, to press forward himself. Is immediately countered and goes back again. He looks tired and frankly a bit lost. Which is unfortunate because he has openings, and is landing shots here and there. And they clinch, ref doesn’t break them and Adeleye, unready, gets absolutely whalloped and dropped! Up but still hurt and Wardley goes to work. Adeleye wobbles all over the ring and the ref steps in. TKO Wardley, Round 7
Another note after the fight: normally any bad blood gets burried immediately after, but Wardley told the cameras very cleary that Adeleye is soft. Yeah, they haven’t liked each other. Good performance from Wardley, who keeps his belt.
Oh, replays show that Adeleye may have hit the ref after the stoppage. Not very hard, but he could be in trouble for that. Might get away with it since it’s just a tap but you can’t do that, no matter how unfair you find it.
Result: Fabio Wardley TKO-7 David Adeleye
Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou fight card
- Heavyweight: Tyson Fury (33-0-1) vs. Francis Ngannou (Debut) – 10 Rounds
- Heavyweight: Fabio Wardley (16-0) vs. David Adeley (12-0) – 12 Rounds
- Heavyweight: Joseph Parker (32-3) vs. Simon Kean (23-1) – 10 Rounds
- Heavyweight: Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0) vs. Junior Anthony Wright (20-4-1) – 10 Rounds
- Heavyweight: Moses Itauma (5-0) vs. Istvan Bernath (10-1) – 6 Rounds
- Heavyweight: Martin Bakole (19-1) vs. Carlos Takam (40-7-1) – 10 Rounds
- Super Welterweight: Jack McGann (8-0-1) vs. Alcibiaden Duran – 8 Rounds
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