At this point we all know that that Tyson Fury is the fight Francis Ngannou wants next. The former UFC heavyweight champion made major waves in the boxing world back in October, with a competitive split decision loss to the WBC heavyweight champion at the Kingdom Arena in Saudi Arabia.
As a result of his performance, Ngannou grabbed a top ten spot in the WBC rankings. Even though that seems like the kind of success that would leave him primed for other bouts, Fury is all that’s on his mind.
“The rematch is what I want next the most,” Ngannou said in a recent interview. “Because, as for right now I feel like there is a lot of options for me, but I want to choose wisely—and I would go for the rematch first.”
Tyson Fury’s manager says rematch is a priority
Fortunately for Francis Ngannou, while Tyson Fury currently has another fight on his horizon, it sounds like the ‘Predator’ might not be waiting too too long to see a rematch of his boxing debut. In a recent interview on the MMA Hour, Fury promoter Frank Warren made it clear that a February 17th booking against Oleksandr Usyk was still priority one, but Ngannou was not forgotten.
“I don’t know [if it’ll be next for Fury],” Warren explained, when asked about a rematch (transcript via MMA Fighting). “It’s like jumping too far forward. Let’s get the big one [with Oleksandr Usyk on Feb. 17] out of the way first, and then we’ll see where we go. But I do think [it’ll happen]. Tyson told me that he wants the rematch, and I know Ngannou wants it, because after the fight we were out there, we met at His Excellency [Turki Alalshikh]’s house and we had quite a lengthy conversation. He’s a nice guy, by the way. He’s a really nice guy, good team around him, and I’m quite sure we’ll do it again.”
Warren sings Ngannou’s praises
Despite (debatably) losing to Tyson Fury when the final scorecards were read, Francis Ngannou’s work earned him no end of praise and credit from the boxing community. While Warren was quick to note that Fury’s training for Usyk—before the Ngannou fight was made—had left him somewhat depleted for the bout against the Cameroonian-born Frenchman, he was also sure that Ngannou’s performance was no flash in the pan.
“When that first bell went and he came out and I watched as he shapes up, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, this is not what I’m expecting,” Warren said of Ngannou. “This is not.’ Normally, MMA guys, they’re a bit more square on. He actually had the stance of a boxer, and he could jab and he was switch hitting. And after a couple of rounds, obviously I believed Tyson was winning, but I thought, ‘This is not going to be the job that everybody’s saying it’s going to be.’”
“I think Ngannou will give any of the guys in the top 10—and he’s ranked now, I think couple of the organizations have dropped him in there, and they should do it, he’s just gone the distance with the world champion—I think it’ll give all of them a problem,” he added later in the conversation. “And there’s a couple of them there I think he could beat.”
Bloody Elbow merch now available
Bloody Elbow is pleased to announce our partnership with Revgear. They have been a pioneer in the MMA gear industry and have grown into a formidable brand and true leader in the market. Revgear now have Bloody Elbow t-shirts, hoodies and hats so you can show your support for independent MMA journalism.
Andre Ward does 180o on Francis Ngannou
The fact that we’re even talking about a Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou rematch at all is remarkable considering what the narrative for this fight was going in. All around the combat sports world, skepticism was high that Ngannou—a pro MMA fighter more known for his fearsome power than his technical skill—could look like any kind of high level competitive boxer, much less someone that could hang with a world champion.
A former undefeated, multi-division champion himself Andre Ward apparently wasn’t even watching the fight when it started. Electing instead to get a workout in, while Fury picked up an easy payday.
“I get on the Stairmaster, I’m doing my 20-30 minutes, but I’m looking over and I’m like, I don’t see anybody reacting,” Ward explained in a recent interview on the MMA Hour (transcript via MMA Fighting). “The fight is not over. So I yell over, I’m like, ‘The fight is still going?’ And the look on their face — they look, they say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s going and Fury may be losing.’ I’m like, ‘No.’ I get off the Stairmaster, right after that he gets dropped. I just couldn’t believe it, and it was a legitimate knockdown. I don’t know what to make of it.”
“I got to give him his credit. He deserves every bit of what he is getting. I know he’s going to have another big fight or two. He said he made more money in that fight than he did in his whole UFC career. That’s what it’s about, especially as you start getting older. I don’t have the words. I don’t know how that happened.”
Ward doesn’t feel Ngannou deserves ranking
Despite all his praise for Francis Ngannou’s great work against Tyson Fury, Ward still has a major issue with the WBC putting a number next to the Xtreme Couture talent’s name. Notably, that even if it was an exceptional performance against a top ranked opponent, Ward feels that a spot in the rankings should be representative of a body of work from a boxer, and not just a one-off performance.
“You don’t get to pick and choose which guy gets in the rankings depending on who you know or what’s going on in the back room,” Ward chided (transcript via Boxing Social). “Ngannou did a great job, but that’s a one off. He has to establish himself. They do whatever they want to do. The problem that I have with that… If we weren’t paying them 3% to keep the company going, you don’t make money outside of what the fighters are paying you.
“If we weren’t paying that, you do what you want to do. If you just want to have these rankings and it doesn’t really affect the fighters, that’s your business. This stuff affects guys’ livelihoods. Guys get phone calls saying ‘Hey man, we were getting close to a title shot we’re not gonna get out now cause they bumped you out the top ten.’ How? I’ve been played around with the rankings, and I just gave the belt back to the WBC at a certain time.”
“The sanctioning bodies, I have no respect for the way they play with these rankings, play with guys’ livelihoods and play with guys’ careers. Shame.”
Join the new Bloody Elbow
Our Substack is where we feature the work of writers like Zach Arnold, John Nash and Connor Reubusch. We’re fighting for the sport, the fighters and the fans. Please help us by subscribing today.
About the author