Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou threw down in Saudi Arabia last weekend and the seemingly impossible almost happened. A literal rank outsider nearly beat the WBC heavyweight champion. Fury won the fight by split decision, but Ngannou won the narrative, as well as respect from the boxing community and a hefty cheque.
Fury said he was risking being humiliated if he had lost to the former UFC heavyweight champion. However, despite having his hand raised, Fury—who was knocked down by Ngannou—is probably still feeling a little embarrassed.
Someone who was in attendance in Riyadh, with vested interest in the fight, was Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn. And he wasn’t very impressed.
Eddie Hern says Tyson Fury looked petrified
“I’ve never seen Tyson Fury [look like that],” Hearn told Ariel Helwani (transcript via MMA Fighting). “He looked petrified. When he got dropped in the third round, he did not want to engage. He was thrown around like a rag doll in the clinch. That Francis did so many basic things well in there — his guard was solid, he caught shots — I’m still [shocked].
“Obviously, you’re your [MMA] community, we’re our [boxing] community — and our community is walking around [in a daze], and you guys are walking around [puffing your chests out]. That’s the most bizarre thing — crossover fights are not competitive. Like, they’re not supposed to be competitive. This is like a boxer that has never fought MMA before, going in, and not just knocking out a UFC guy, but actually competing with him in terms of his skill. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing.”
“I think Tyson is going to find it difficult over the next few weeks, because it’s going to be on top of him,” Heard added. “And he doesn’t like that. He won’t like the criticism. And he’ll probably take a break from social media or media and just sort of slip away, and say, ‘I’m going to just chill,’ and family time and Christmas and stuff like that. But it will hurt him, the criticism, because it’s massively tainted his legacy.”
Tyson Fury responds
Criticism from Eddie Hearn was to be expected. He may have even found a way to criticize Tyson Fury if he scored a first round KO win over Francis Ngannou.
Hearn promotes Fury’s heavyweight rival Anthony Joshua and had struck an agreement with Daniel Kinahan (an accused mob boss wanted by the US government and former advisor to Fury) for a two bout deal between Joshua and Fury before Joshua lost his titles to Oleksandr Usyk.
After hearing that Hearn had been critical about his performance, Fury fired back on his own YouTube channel, branding the promoter “a sausage”.
“Eddie Hearn’s a sausage,” he said. “I don’t care what he says. It would be nothing good anyway. Forget about it, don’t even read it to me. Not interested.”
Tyson Fury says Usyk still next
Fury, whose bouts with Joshua would have been some of the biggest fights in British boxing history had they come to fruition, also said that, despite his scare versus Ngannou, his next fight would be for the undisputed heavyweight titles.
Weeks ago Fury and Usyk’s camps announced a potential date of December 23 for the fight, which will also be in Saudi Arabia. However, Fury’s bruising affair with Ngannou has pushed that back.
Despite the surprising amount of resistance he faced from Ngannou, and the need to push back the Usyk fight, Fury was adamant that we’d see an undisputed heavyweight title contest soon.
“Listen, I don’t know about a bad night because that’s taking away from Francis Ngannou’s performance,” Fury said. “He did very well. That’s it, really. It’s boxing.
“You can’t be the best version of yourself every time, but it’s about keep going and on to the next one, which is Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed championship.”
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