Francis Ngannou to be ranked by the WBC, here’s what that means and what might happen next

Francis Ngannou is going to be ranked in the top ten of the WBC heavyweight division after his loss to Tyson Fury on Saturday.

By: Tim Bissell | 1 month ago
Francis Ngannou to be ranked by the WBC, here’s what that means and what might happen next
September 26 2023,Francis Ngannou,Media Workout,Las Vegas,Nevadas,Nevada Las Vegas Nevada USA NgonnouWorkout_Hoganphotos1699 | Tom Hogan / Hoganphotos, IMAGO

Francis Ngannou nearly upset Tyson Fury

Francis Ngannou nearly gave Tyson Fury his first loss this past Saturday. In the ‘Battle of the Baddest,’ Ngannou went toe-to-toe against Fury, who he sat down with a left hand early in the fight. Still, it was not enough for the Predator to get the win in the eyes of two judges, as they scored the fight for Fury. After his split decision loss, Ngannou let it be known that he would stick around in boxing.

May 15, 2023, Los Angeles, CA, Los Angeles, CA, United States: Los Angeles, CA - May 16: Francis Ngannou behind the scenes of his promotional video workout at Professional Fighters League - Francis Ngannou workout at Unbreakable Performance Center on May 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA Los Angeles, CA United States - ZUMAp175 20230515_zsa_p175_017
Louis Grasse / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

“I’m just a fighter and I’m ready to fight any time soon,” said Ngannou afterwards. 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—t. Now, baby, get ready. A wolf is in the house. I’m going to bite some sheep.”

So who is Ngannou going to bite next?

Francis Ngannou just shook MMA – Zane Simon

Francis Ngannou will be ranked in the top 10

According to one of his head coaches, Dewey Cooper, Ngannou is going to be ranked in the top ten of the division after his fight with Tyson Fury.

“Mauricio Sulaiman, the president of WBC, said he’s going to rank him in the top ten because he’s better than most of the heavyweights in the top ten,” said Cooper to Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. “He said that in the ring, so absolutely. You’ll see him again.”

April 26, 2023, Mexico City, Mexico: The president of the World Boxing Council, Mauricio Sulaiman at the presentation of the commemorative belt of the battle of May 5 for the fight of Saul â€oeCanelo” Alvarez vs John Ryder, on May 6 , in a conference at the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico City. on April 26, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico Mexico City Mexico - ZUMAe321 20230427_zia_e321_004
WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman in 2023. | Luis Barron / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

The WBC’s top ten heavyweights are headlined by Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, who are ranked first and second, behind champion Fury. See the full top ten below.

WBC Heavyweight Rankings

  1. Deontay Wilder (43-2-1)
  2. Anthony Joshua (26-3)
  3. Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0)
  4. Frank Sanchez (23-0)
  5. Andy Ruiz Jr. (35-2)
  6. Jared Anderson (16-0)
  7. Efe Ajagba (18-1)
  8. Dillian Whyte (29-3)
  9. Martin Bakole (20-1)
  10. Joseph Parker (33-3)

Presumably Joseph Parker, who beat Simon Kean by third round KO on the undercard of Fury vs. Ngannou, is in danger of being bounced from this list if Sulaiman follows through and has Ngannou parachuted into the top ten.

Opinion: Here are the next best options for Francis Ngannou’s next fight

With Francis Ngannou’s sensational, albeit losing, effort on Saturday, there will be plenty of folks (from both MMA and boxing camps) interested in seeing him hit the ring again. This gives Ngannou a tremendous amount of options moving forwards.

As our own Evan Zivin explained Ngannou could stand to make a lot more money, and cultural impact, if he continues boxing after this, so the idea of fighting in MMA next should be off the table for the PFL recruit.

The field of top ten WBC opponents includes options that could take Ngannou in various directions. There are fights that can give him the biggest bag right now, but might drop him to 0-2. And there are fights which might be winnable for him, though don’t offer the same name cache.

Here are some of those options.

Deontay Wilder

October 16, 2022, Brooklyn, New York, USA: DEONTAY WILDER (black and gold trunks) walks away after knocking out ROBERT HELENIUS in a WBC World Heavyweight Title Eliminator bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn USA - ZUMAp109 20221016_zaf_p109_001
Deontay Wilder after obliterating Robert Helenius in 2022. | Joel Plummer / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

If Ngannou is looking to make another big pay day then I would side with my colleague Blaine Henry and say that The Predator needs to face The Bronze Bomber next.

Ngannou vs. Deontay Wilder would be a marque event and Wilder is an opponent who can sell a fight, even opposite a quiet and somewhat humble foe. It also makes sense from a sporting degree, too, with both men having lost to Tyson Fury (though Wilder’s two losses were far more emphatic).

After what we saw against Fury, I don’t think you could write Ngannou off against Wilder (something I did for the Fury fight). Wilder is 38 and hasn’t fought since 2022. Against Wilder, Ngannou would face a new kind of KO threat, so it will be interesting to see if he has the defence to get through that bout. Based on Saturday, it seems pretty clear that he would be able to land on Wilder, just like he did on Fury. So even though Wilder is a tough opponent, Ngannou could still come out on top.

Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua ( red shorts) knocks out Robert Helenius ( white blue shorts) during their International Heavyweight contest at the O2, London, England on the 12 August 2023. PMI-5697-0011
Anthony Joshua after his win over Robert Helenius, in 2023. | Alan Stanford / PRiME Media Images, IMAGO

The other obvious match-up for Francis Ngannou is Anthony Joshua, which Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn is keen on. That fight provides a lot of the same perks as the Wilder fight, though I think Ngannou vs. Wilder is more interesting and has more box office potential. Joshua might be more beatable, though.

If Ngannou wants almost as much box office success as what Wilder could bring in, but a little less risk; this is the route he should go.

Joshua is still young, athletic and a very good boxer, but there are question marks around his nerve and steel. Ngannou showed on Saturday that he’s afraid of no man or stage, so I could see him rising to the occasion to beat a Joshua who shrinks from the pressure.

Joseph Parker

BOXING TSZYU BOMMBER, Joseph Parker arrives to the ring for his Heavyweight bout against Faiga Opelu at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Wednesday, May 24, 2023. ( !ACHTUNG: NUR REDAKTIONELLE NUTZUNG, KEINE ARCHIVIERUNG UND KEINE BUCHNUTZUNG! MELBOURNE VICTORIA AUSTRALIA PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUSxNZLxPNGxFIJxVANxSOLxTGA 20230524001802691371
Joseph Parker before his fight with Faiga Opelu in May 2023. | MORGAN HANCOCK / AAP, IMAGO

If Francis Ngannou wanted to exercise more patience, and not go for a big name, but instead someone who can help him advance up the rankings and perhaps help him appear more like a serious contender, I think Joseph Parker is the way to go (especially if Parker drops out of the top ten to make room for Ngannou).

The storyline writers itself in that case. An MMA star comes into boxing, loses, and bumps Parker out of the top ten. Parker could play the role of representing boxing against this new usurper. Ngannou could continue to play the role of brave crusader venturing into this new sport and taking out those who doubt his worthiness to be there.

Parker is younger than Ngannou, though his record is marred by some significant losses to Joshua and the less imposing Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce.

Ngannou vs. Parker doesn’t sell as much as a fight with Wilder or Joshua, but if he comes through that with a win, then those other fights become much bigger and much more lucrative.

No matter what, though, it should be clear now that Francis Ngannou is the hottest ticket in combat sports. Whether it’s boxing or MMA, people are going to show up and support the likeable fighter and see just how far he can go (without the UFC).

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

Tim is also BE's lead (only) sumo reporter. He blogs about that sport here and on his own substack, Sumo Stomp!

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