The combat sports world is still reeling. Francis Ngannou didn’t win against Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but he shocked a whole heck of a lot of people with 10 strong rounds of boxing against one of the best heavyweights of the last 20 years.
The general feeling in the air, as a result, is that while the 37-year-old didn’t get his hand raised, he was just about the only one who walked out of the arena on October 28th that had the aura of victory around him. Tyson Fury has to push back his planned Usyk fight, the UFC looked petty and short sighted, and the PFL has to reckon with a star performer whose price tag almost certainly shot up.
Francis Ngannou resolute after Fury loss
After the bout was over, Francis Ngannou took a moment to speak to fans at the arena about his performance and where it might lead him. It’s clear that even with the split decision going against him, the Xtreme Couture talent was flying high, and couldn’t wait to jump back in the ring for another boxing bout.
“I feel great, I feel fantastic, I’m very happy” Ngannou said after his bout with Fury (transcript from MMA Fighting). “It didn’t go my way. I want to thank … the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for giving me this opportunity to prove people wrong one more time again.
“I’m just a fighter and I’m ready to fight any time soon. We can run it back again and I’m sure I’m going to get better. This was my first boxing match. Great experience. I’m not giving any excuse. I know I came up short but I’m going to go back and work harder. With a little more experience next time, a little more feeling of the game, and come back even stronger. Because, at first, I was a little nervous. This new sport that I never did, that I don’t really feel it, now I know I can do this s***. Now, baby, get ready. A wolf is in the house. I’m going to bite some s***.”
Tyson Fury stunned by Francis Ngannou’s ability
As aforementioned, if Francis Ngannou feels like he won, it feels a lot more like Tyson Fury lost. Speaking to fans after his bout as well, Fury sounded notably stunned by the competition he’d just played a part in.
“That definitely wasn’t in the script,” Fury said post-fight. “Francis is a hell of a fighter. Strong, big puncher, and a lot better boxer than we all thought he would ever be. Listen, he’s a very awkward man and he’s a good puncher, and I respect him a lot. Before the fight and afterward.”
“He was very awkward. He wasn’t coming forward. He was standing back waiting for me to land my punches and then try to counter. He’s a good fighter. He’s given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years.”
Even before talking things over with his manager, it already started to sound like plans for his bout against Usyk were disintegrating before our very eyes. The first thing on Fury’s mind wasn’t a new bout in December, but getting a little time to rest up and recuperate.
“I’ve been out of the ring a lot time again, 11 months in between my last fights,” Fury said. “You can see it in here. Ring rust and everything. No excuses. Francis is a good fighter and he caught me with some good punches. Fair play to him. He cut me across the eye there. I don’t know what that was, a left hook or head butt or something, I’m not sure. But it was a rough fight. Perfect.”
Fury vs. Usyk delayed
Fury vs. Usyk had been seemingly all signed, set and delivered for December 23rd in Riyadh, likely at the same venue where Fury took on Ngannou on October 28th. After the bout was over, however, Fury’s manager made it clear that while the bout hasn’t been cancelled, it has very definitely been delayed.
“It will go ahead but it will not be on the 23rd,” said Warren in a recent interview. “It was crazy for some people to suggest that it could still go ahead on the 23rd. He is 35-years-old and has just done a 12-week training camp and has just been in a tough fight. He needs a break with his family, he needs to switch off and we will announce the date when we are ready. But the fight is signed. The fight will happen. It will happen early in the new year, late January or February. That will be up to Tyson, it is his body.
“Fury said in the ring that he would fight on the 23rd—and he would do it—but he needs protecting from himself and that’s my job.”
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