By: Sean Crose
On Tuesday afternoon, the World Boxing Council released the following statement on social media: “Mauricio Sulaiman said that Tyson Fury received special permission from the WBC to fight Francis Ngannou as there is no official challenger. He mentioned that Fury tried to close fights against Ruiz, Joshua and Usyk but no agreement was reached.” Sulaiman, for those who don’t know, is the WBC President. What this all means, of course, is that WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury doesn’t have to worry about the being stripped of his title for fighting former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou October 28th in Saudi Arabia.
In normal times, Fury would be expected to fight another professional boxer in his next match. These, however, are not normal times. Ever since Floyd Mayweather bested UFC star Conor McGregor in an insanely lucrative 2017 boxing superbout, mixed martial artists of note have been entering the ring to face some of boxing’s biggest names – and for a whole lot of money. Yet the money isn’t just good for former UFC stars. Fury may well make more money facing Ngannou that he would by squaring off against fellow heavyweight boxing titlist Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. For Fury-Ngannou will likely be appealing to boxing fans and mixed martial arts fans alike – though not everyone is crazing about the upcoming fight.
Kevin Iole, who reports on both boxing and mixed martial arts for Yahoo, declared Fury-Nganno “a mismatch of epic proportions, a world champion who is high on the pound-for-pound list meeting a guy with zero boxing matches, amateur or pro.” Sure enough, though he’s been quite a successful and hard hitting mixed martial artist, Ngannou is a complete boxing novice. And those who point out that boxing and mixed martial arts are two distinctly different disciplines are correct in doing so.
Still, there’s little doubt that Fury-Ngannou will bring in considerable amounts of attention and money. While it clearly won’t be as big an event as Mayweather-McGregor, it will likely bring down a good number of pay per view buys. With that being said, purists – at least those on the boxing front – have been treated this year to high level matchups between legitimate opponents. And while they no doubt mourn the fact that Fury is facing Ngannou rather than Usyk this summer, these purists have major fights like Terence Crawford-Errol Spence and Stephen Fulton-Nasoya Inoue on the horizon.
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