Plus, night of the heavyweights in Saudi & Serrano makes history
This article originally appeared in Steve Wellings’ Substack
Francis Ngannou had never previously entered the boxing ring as a professional. Shortly after midnight on Saturday, October 28, in Riyadh, the former UFC heavyweight king was just a couple of points away from creating an earthquake in his newly adopted sport.
Make no mistake, defeat for Tyson Fury would’ve been a giant blow for boxing. However, as the scores were read out, many watching at home were rooting for the unfancied brawler to get the nod in their non-title affair. If there was a pre-written script agreed as to how the bout would play out, Francis crossed it out with a red pen, rejected any WWE narratives and decided to throw leather instead.
Fury’s fall from grace is witnessed by the sporting world (Sky Sports)
Mentally underestimating his foe and physically underprepared for an onslaught, Fury would argue that he just about edged the contest. Looking slower than usual, less coordinated and even clueless at times, the boxing kingpin was faced with a primitive powerhouse who offered nothing particularly unique but presented the kind of rough-and-ready challenge Fury had not encountered since the final Deontay Wilder installment.
Cancelling the post-fight press conference, a bruised and battered Fury opted to retreat to the dressing room, nurse his bruised head and bruised ego, and count his coins. The ‘Gypsy King’ travelled to Saudi for the cash. His underdog challenger went for a scrap.
Even Frank Warren, who had shelved his hardcore promoter status in order to cash in on the type of main event he would usually be slating, appeared to be sweating a little as the scores were read out. In the end, his cash cow prevailed by margins of 95-94 and 96-93, with a 95-94 going the other way.
Was it a worse decision than the John McDermott English title reverse in 2009 that had Frank Maloney climbing the ring post in disgust to vent his frustrations? Out of McDermott and Ngannou, who had more of a case for beating Fury?
Both questions are rhetorical and largely meaningless, but at no point did Fury take full control of the fight. Landing a minuscule amount of quality blows, the 10-rounder became a struggle and a strain, waiting for the final bell to ring so the cut and bruised WBC champion could escape with a smidgen of dignity intact. Round three provided a stark wake-up call as Tyson walked onto a counter shot and tasted the canvas.
Embarrassed, he rose to his feet and spent much of the follow-up engagements grabbing and smothering. Ngannou’s output was rudimentary yet consistent and effective. The gas tank did not empty like many had expected. He was a threat for the majority of the contest.
It will be interesting to see what Fury chooses to do next. Some suggest he will retire. That’s unlikely. A rematch with Ngannou is more realistic. Now in his mid-30s, weight fluctuating up and down, Tyson’s body is feeling the strain.
Despite his polemical speeches on motivational YouTube channels where he attacks drinking culture and urges his disciples to live cleanly, Fury’s personal battle with substances outside of camp is ongoing. Poor lifestyle choices catch up on every athlete in the end.
Seated at ringside, shaking his head at how the spectacle was unfolding, Fury’s most appealing next option will be hoping to sign, seal and deliver his big shot at a potentially ‘shot’ champion.
Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk will determine a heavyweight king
The window of opportunity to make Fury vs Usyk is closing even faster after the Englishman’s lacklustre display against UFC fighter Ngannou. With a shrinking fanbase and a growing number of skeptics, the money-motivated Mancunian has an overdue appointment with destiny.
Announcing the Usyk fight in some form helped to take the heat off the Ngannou event. Turn up, get the French-Cameroonian out of the way with minimal fuss and then move on to the real stuff. Refusing to assume his role as ill-equipped fall guy, Ngannou instead turned up the pressure dial after an unexpectedly competitive display that has created online debate as to who else Ngannou could potentially beat at heavyweight. Domestic dossers like Whyte and Chisora both received a mention.
No date or venue had been mentioned, leading some to accuse Usyk of being the contradictory problem behind the many delays and false starts. Fury initially floated a December 23 date. Frank Warren is now pulling back on that suggestion.
Mentally fragile in the past, Fury would be best served avoiding the social media barrage that is coming his way. Usyk, meanwhile, is a cult figure and a growing fan favourite. The more Fury ducks and dodges, adding increasingly ridiculous conditions to the undisputed clash, the more fans will become fed up with his antics.
Wardley and Parker lead the undercard heavyweights
There was some heavy-hitting action on the Fury undercard as Fabio Wardley comprehensively ended his British beef with David Adeleye via a seventh-round stoppage. Adeleye caused some early issues with his hand speed before the gas tank started depleting as early as the fifth. Ipswich’s Wardley is no great shakes but keeps on winning. His jab and bodywork were on point. Adeleye was dropped heavily prior to the stoppage and even landed a push and dig on referee John Latham when he was stopped.
Wardley shut down and stopped Adeleye (Eurosport)
Joseph Parker provided a rare moment of excitement by icing Canada’s stiff and upright Simon Kean with a peach of an uppercut in the third. Tipping the scales just shy of 300 pounds, Martin Bakole used his additional bulk to knock out Carlos Takam in round four. Arslanbek Makhmudov and Moses Itauma won in a single round in their respective battles against no-hopers.
Amanda Serrano defeated Danila Ramos in Orlando on Friday evening. It was a groundbreaking main event as two women competed in a 12-rounder for the first time in years. That rule change may lead to more fatigue-based knockouts. It lasted the distance on this occasion as Amanda chugged away to sweep a unanimous decision victory. All three judges scored it 120-108 in the Puerto Rican’s favour. The winner threw almost 1,000 punches.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.