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5 Reasons To Watch Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou

Plus wins for Janibek and Tszyu, while O’Neill weighs heavy

This article originally appeared in Steve Wellngs’ Substack

Someone recently asked me what could be expected from the upcoming Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou fight on October 28 in Riyadh, live on pay-per-view. Is it a real fight? Is it competitive on any level? Does Ngannou have a chance to dethrone Fury?

While Fury will undoubtedly have too many skills and levels of experience for a raw opponent, we never quite know what the erratic giant will choose to do in the ring.

Therefore, some minor levels of intrigue may be attached to the ‘Battle of the Baddest’ outcome. Let’s look over five reasons why it might be worth tuning in after all.

There’s a decent enough undercard

Number one is the supporting cast. Fake beef is everywhere in boxing these days. The British title clash between David Adelaye and Fabio Wardley carries a touch of genuine bad blood, given how the pair recently scrapped on the red carpet, leaving Wardley sporting a cut eye. Aside from that transplanted domestic dust-up, former world champion Joseph Parker keeps getting paydays. His latest opponent is Canada’s Simon Kean, a stiff puncher cashing out his decent record. If Parker can’t stop Kean, then there’s no hope for him.

The ageless Carlos Takam fights Martin Bakole. Even though Takam is billed first, surely Bakole has enough about him to grab the win. Top Rank talent Arslanbek Makhmudov features against Anthony Wright, a 37-year-old former cruiserweight from Illinois who has steadily gained 33 pounds since his pro debut. Three of ‘The Hurricane’s’ four losses have come via stoppage, so it’s unlikely he’ll see past the third round here. 

The same could be said for Ngannou in the main event unless he manages to pull off number two.

The big underdog might land that one-in-a-million punch

OK, this is unlikely to happen if preparation footage is anything to go by. Ngannou may have enlisted the assistance of the one-time ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ to train him, but progression into a decent pugilist has been slow. Primed in the UFC discipline, footage of Ngannou shows a limited gas tank, dodgy footwork and rudimentary boxing skills.

One wild swing could turn the tide, but if Deontay Wilder couldn’t knock Fury out in three contests, there’s zero chance of a novice completing the trick. Despite what Frank Warren reckons, we have no hard evidence that Ngannou punches anywhere near as hard as Wilder. 

Speaking of Warren, he’s been slating the Misfits/YouTubers effort from last weekend as ‘pathetic’. Thus, number three comes into play.

It can’t be any worse than KSI vs. Tommy Fury

Or can it? If Fury chooses to showboat and carry Ngannou we could be in for a mind-numbing affair. The action will likely last for as long as Fury wants it to. Hopefully, he puts the former UFC king out of his misery sooner rather than later. Which leads me on to number four.

Ngannou might bring a little comedy value

Six weeks before Christmas, the pantomime season comes early. Even if Ngannou can’t make us laugh, he could at least cause a few shakes of the head with comical antics. Trying to break Fury’s arm, ala Mike Tyson versus Frans Botha, or wrestle the ‘Gypsy King’ out of the ring to cause a melee. Even though we’re led to believe he now cuts a mellow figure, Mike Tyson himself could introduce a blindside move. After working with the pseudo-boxer for a number of months, Iron Mike says that knockout potential is at play. Of course, they always say that.

Even if the hardcores aren’t interested, casual sports fans love a freak show. The Mayweather-McGregor bout was oddly competitive as Floyd opted to carry McGregor, probably to try and sell a future rematch. Many people not only gave McGregor a chance in that fight, but they actively picked him to win. The power of perception can force any group of drunks to hand over 20 quid on a whim and enjoy a Box Office massacre.

Fury-Ngannou could prove to be more entertaining than the Floyd-Conor spectacle if number five plays out.

Some craziness may transpire

A circus event is always possible with such a cast of bizarre characters descending on the Middle East. Visions of John Fury ripping off a flowing robe to reveal his jiggly torso, punching sheets of perspex and screaming at the top of his voice could quickly become a reality. Hopefully, the authorities will cart him off for an extended stay of solitude if anything goes down. A break from Big John’s table-tipping tumult and rambling rasps will give the entire boxing community some peace for a while. 

There you have it. A fair stretch, I’ll agree, but Fury vs. Ngannou could be worth a watch after all. At least it’ll be on at a decent hour. 

O’Neill carries a heavy load on MHD Promotion

One of the most painstaking tasks within boxing is making weight. Stories abound of fighters stripping off those final ounces, sitting with cracked lips in illicit saunas or skipping rope in a tin foil sweatsuit.

Expected to contest the Irish welterweight title on Saturday evening in North Belfast, local hero Owen O’Neill had no such concerns when weighing in for the supposed opportunity of a lifetime. Beating Declan Geraghty, a wayward southpaw with immense talent but questionable resistance, would’ve propelled unbeaten Owen to a new level.

However, it wasn’t to be. O’Neill didn’t box in the Girdwood Community Hub because he exceeded the weight by 10 pounds. Grasping moves to turn the main event into a super-welterweight affair failed as O’Neill continued to bulk up, and the fight was scrapped. Apparently, ‘The Operator’ had been on course at the check weigh-in to slim down but came in heavier on the Europea Hotel scales. Quite what he was consuming in the interim is anybody’s guess.

Tough break: O’Neill must rebuild his career and fans’ confidence

As they say, the show must go on, and Promoter Mark Dunlop still had five fights on the bill. Conor Quinn headlined against Scotland’s Chris Liddell, scoring a seventh-round stoppage to claim his first two pro belts (Commonwealth Silver and Celtic flyweight). Legendary flyweight Hugh Russell, who passed away on Friday 13th, would’ve been proud of Quinn’s efforts.

Cavan’s Dominic Donegan lost a shock decision to journeyman CJ Wood. Galway southpaw John Cooney outboxed Louie Norman. Colm Murphy defeated Joshua Ocampo, and Connor Kerr outpointed Luke Fash.

Buatsi fight OFF after Azeez withdrawal

Last week, I wrote about a UK double-header due to take place this coming weekend. Unfortunately, the best fight was crushed when Dan Azeez pulled out of his clash with Joshua Buatsi. Azeez apparently suffered a back injury in his final training session. They must’ve had him lifting monster trucks like Geoff Capes to cause such a last-minute rupture. Rival promoter Eddie Hearn claimed he heard rumours that the fight was struggling to shift tickets.

Mikael Lawal and Isaac Chamberlain now headline the Boxxer card. It’s still a good fight, but not on the level of the original, as is to be expected in these circumstances. Jack Catterall still goes ahead against Jorge Linares on the same night. I’ll not go into too much depth here. You can read the article for more thoughts on the respective contests.

Nuthouse Notes – Wins for Tim Tszyu & Janibek ‘Qazaq Style’

Ringside in Australia, and a shrill, high-pitched howl could be heard echoing across the airwaves. The lady in question was clearly enjoying Tim Tszyu’s performance against Brian Mendoza. Apparently, it was Tim’s sister making all the noise. Employing his solid jab and raking power shots, her brother took Mendoza under control before beating him up. 

A weaker specimen than Mendoza would’ve folded or bailed before the final round was reached. Tszyu respected his opponent’s power, was a worthy winner, and called for his fans to join him on a foray across the water to fight in Las Vegas.

Too strong: Tszyu took over as the bout went on and brave Mendoza weakened

Boxing often holds a number of ‘boogeyman’ claimants. Fighters who are pushed out into the cold due to their risk-reward ratio. Not enough cash to take the trouble to fight them. Janibek Alimkhanuly (choose your own surname pronunciation) is a bit of a boogeyman. Vincenzo Gualtieri stepped up with his IBF belt in Texas last Saturday and offered himself as a sacrificial lamb. 

Try as he might to make things awkward, the German was clearly out of his depth. After sampling a few right jabs and left uppercuts, Vincenzo retreated into his familiar shell and skirted along the ropes, trying to survive. Alimkhanuly really puts a lot onto the end of his shots.

While not the powerful puncher his countryman Gennady Golovkin proved to be, 30-year-old Janibek is razor-sharp when presented with a test. Gualtieri was only a test on paper. The likes of Carlos Adames and Jermall Charlo will need to be on their respective A-games if they are to beat the latest Kazakh beast to land on American shores.

About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 400 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries: stevenwellings1982@gmail.com.



Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years