Depending on how you see things, we are either three days away from Tyson Fury taking Francis Ngannou to school or three days away from the biggest upset in the history of combat sports. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, has arrived in Saudi Arabia for the ‘Battle of the Baddest’ between WBC heavyweight champion, Fury, and former UFC heavyweight king, Francis Ngannou and he is expecting an extravaganza.
“As a spectacle, this will be absolutely massive”
Warren has never shied away from the fact that he sees this as an event – not a fight – for the ages but the scale of the show has surprised even him. There has been a two-month long campaign to drum up interest in the fight and make sure Riyadh Season gets off to a spectacular start. If the fight itself is unlikely to produce fireworks, all the stops have been pulled out to make sure that the spectacle will be unforgettable.
“As far as what’s going on, look at the promo’s. One of them, within a couple of days nearly 200 million people had viewed it. Look at the amount of promotion. This – and I’m not talking about it as a fight, I’m talking about it as an event – will be the biggest event I’ve ever been involved in,” Warren told 32Red.
“As a spectacle and talking about everything around it, it’s going to be massive. Absolutely massive.
“The undercard is going to be in one ring, then they’re moving to the big building and there will be twenty minutes where they open the Riyadh Season with speeches. Then, the ring is going to come up out of the ground with the guys on it.
“I think it’ll be a shootout”
“Look around the world. In Piccadilly Gardens, the big billboard there is all Tyson. Times Square [in New York] is full of it. They’ve done that in Manchester too and on the Thames, just by Tower Bridge, there are two 9ft statues of the fighters. They’ve had hundreds of cabs in London driving around London with all the livery on. That’s the same in New York, in Tokyo, in Germany. It’s massive.”
It is strange to have such a big event with such a seemingly predictable outcome. If Fury takes the fight seriously and treats Ngannou with the same respect as he did Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder, the fight could be over within a couple of rounds and everybody can switch their attention to the true battle of the baddest, the undisputed heavyweight title fight between Fury and WBO, WBA and IBF champion, Oleksandr Usyk.
We hear the phrase ‘a punch from the God’s’ more and more regularly in boxing these days and if Ngannou is able to land a right hand hammer that Thor himself would be proud of, it would be a catastrophic blow to the whole sport, not just Fury. Warren may be 99.9% sure of a Fury masterclass but that still leaves 0.1% for him to worry about when he takes his seat.
“The one thing he can do is pack a punch”
“As a fight, what do I think? I don’t see him beating Tyson. He won’t outbox him. I’ve watched his UFC fights and he’s a strong, rugged guy. He isn’t gonna turn into a boxer. He’s gonna try and bully and rough Tyson up and so forth,” Warren said. “If you look at Tyson’s last three or four fights, he has wound up trading with people and he’s been on the floor a few times from trading. I think it’ll be a shootout, I don’t think it’ll last long and hopefully it’ll be exciting while it lasts.
“I think from Tyson’s perspective there is pressure. Everybody thinks it’s a foregone conclusion. I think this fella has got nothing to lose and I think he’ll come out throwing bombs. Whatever anybody thinks, whether he’s got boxing ability or not, the one thing he can do is pack a punch. He’s a big, big puncher.
“We’re all gonna be on the edge of our seats. The one thing about it, he’s not a YouTuber. He’s coming for a fight. I spoke to Joe Joyce about it and he said he doesn’t shape up badly. Tyson has been fighting differently. He hasn’t been up on his toes, he’s been trading himself. Look what he did in the last fight with Wilder. He was on the floor twice.”
“Ngannou will come out throwing bombs”
When Floyd Mayweather boxed Conor McGregor in the last major boxing-MMA crossover fight, it was widely reported that there was a clause inserted into McGregor’s contract which would see him heavily penalised financially if he reverted back to his MMA roots and launched an elbow or kick at Mayweather. There is no such clause in place for Fury and Ngannou and Warren is hoping for a quick, clean victory and a clear path to a megafight with Usyk.
“It [the clause] won’t be needed because it’s under the rules of boxing. They’re fighting under the WBC rules and the British Boxing Board of Control rules because they’re officiating. The referee will disqualify him if that happens.
“The ideal outcome? I want him [Fury] to get rid of him as soon as possible so we can get the big one going.”