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.
“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 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.”
WBC Heavyweight Rankings
- Deontay Wilder (43-2-1)
- Anthony Joshua (26-3)
- Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0)
- Frank Sanchez (23-0)
- Andy Ruiz Jr. (35-2)
- Jared Anderson (16-0)
- Efe Ajagba (18-1)
- Dillian Whyte (29-3)
- Martin Bakole (20-1)
- 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.
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.
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.
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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