Francis Ngannou’s dream took shape whilst he was a teenager working in the sand mines in Cameroon. The dream carried him across borders and kept him going during his time in a Spanish detention centre.
It led him to France where he slept in a car park whilst he looked for a boxing gym to train at and fuelled his rise from the streets of Paris to Las Vegas and the UFC heavyweight championship.
It is a truly incredible story and no matter what happens this weekend when Ngannou faces WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, in ‘The Battle of the Baddest’ in Saudi Arabia, it has had a fairytale ending. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Ngannou will achieve his dream of boxing the world heavyweight champion and he will do so with his hero, the legendary ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, in his corner.
“This is a dream come true”
“Where would I start? This is a dream come true, I remember when I first met Mike Tyson four years ago, my only request was that when I fight Tyson Fury, will you be in my corner? People thought I was losing it or that I was crazy and that would never happen. Look at us today. The fight is happening. I’m very excited. I’m living the dream. It was never easy but we got here,” Ngannou said at yesterday’s final press conference.
“It might be weird but I want to thank Tyson Fury for taking the fight because there’s a lot of risk for him here too. He might go to sleep on Saturday night so I appreciate his courage and I thank him a lot for the opportunity.”
Ngannou carries himself like a champion. He isn’t in Saudi Arabia for attention or money, he genuinely believes he can win. He has, however, had a lot to deal with. A professional heavyweight boxer would find Fury one of the most complicated puzzles to solve in the entire sport. On top of that he has had to transform a style designed for the cage into one which will be effective in the ring, he has had to work on his conditioning and he has had to take part in hundreds of interviews and promotional video shoots.
Nonetheless, Ngannou is confident that he has managed to cram in everything he needed to. Deep down the 37 year old knows that to win, he must find a way to land a full blooded right hand or left hook on Fury’s chin. ‘Iron Mike’ was arguably the greatest offensive force in boxing history and Ngannou has leaned heavily on his advice.
“Having Mike Tyson around was helpful”
“The delivery system is very in place. It is ready. It has come on a long way from when we were at the press conference in London,” he said.
“This camp has been different from my past camps. It’s a different experience and pace. I was aware that there was a mountain in front of me and that’s why we started the camp earlier. It’s been very good. Having someone like Mike Tyson around was very helpful. When you have to take a tree down you find a better hatchet for it. Some trees require bigger hatchets and that’s why we bought Mike Tyson in. The first thing he said to me was, ‘Listen, he has two hands and two feet like you.’”
Ngannou is as ready as he will ever be. On Thursday he sounded more confident than he has throughout the entire buildup and as the show descended into a shouting match, he made his most forthright prediction yet.
“Under six rounds. I’m ready.”