WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury will be back in the ring later this year, but disappointingly it won’t be against unified champ Oleksandr Usyk, but rather, MMA star Francis Ngannou.
Queensberry Promotions and Top Rank Boxing (Fury’s co promoter’s) made the joint announcement mid-afternoon London time.
From their release:
“TYSON FURY, THE undefeated Lineal and WBC heavyweight champion of the world, and Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, will collide on Saturday, October 28th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in an epic showdown between two giants of their fields following the opening of Riyadh Season.
The clash to find out who is the “Baddest Man on the Planet” will take place under the official rules of professional boxing, with 3 judges ringside adopting the 10-point must system. Both fighters however are promising to meet in the middle of the ring, go to war and win by knockout in devastating fashion.
An agreement has been reached with Queensberry, Top Rank and Ngannou’s promotional banner, GIMIK Fight Promotions, to partner with Riyadh Season to host the history-making event that will capture the imagination of fight fans around the globe.
The world will discover who can rightly claim the title of “Baddest Man on the Planet” in the capital of the Kingdom, when “The Gypsy King” goes up against “The Predator” to determine the true Heavyweight King.
The fight will see the toughest chin in boxing tested by the Most Powerful Punch in the world, as confirmed by the Guinness World Records. This is a matchup where there will be no quarter given.
The mega-fight, one of the richest in history, will take place in a regulation boxing ring under the standard boxing rules in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s largest city.
Tyson Fury: “As soon as that bell goes, it’ll be bombs away! This guy is supposed to be the hardest puncher in the world, but let’s see how he reacts when he gets hit by the Big GK. I can’t wait to get back out there under the lights. I’m looking forward to showing the world that The Gypsy King is the greatest fighter of his generation in an epic battle with another master of his craft. Francis looked tough when he jumped in the ring after the Whyte fight, but there is no one tougher than me, and you’ll all see that in devastating fashion on October 28. I’d like to thank my promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum, my manager Spencer Brown and the guys at Riyadh Season for making this incredible event possible. It’s going to be a fight for the ages. Get up!”
Francis Ngannou: “I’ve been waiting to meet Tyson in the ring for the past three years. My dream was always to box, and to box the best. After becoming the undisputed MMA Heavyweight Champion, this is my opportunity to make that dream come true and cement my position as the baddest man on the planet. I’d like to thank Riyadh Season and my team at 3Point0 Labs for helping put this event together. All I will say to Tyson for now is he better dance in that ring because if I touch him, he’s going to sleep.”
Frank Warren (Queensberry Chairman): “This heavyweight clash has ‘war’ written all over it. Tyson Fury is the most exciting heavyweight on the planet. It is a game changer; we didn’t want to wait for Tyson to get out and here we are at Riyadh Season in a super-fight. Tyson is at his best when he is breaking new boundaries and this event is one of a kind. History will be made in Riyadh with a battle of the giants from the two leading codes of combat fighting.
Bob Arum (Top Rank Chairman): “Tyson Fury is one of the finest heavyweight boxers in history, and he now has an opportunity to lock horns with an MMA legend. This will be a historic event, and we know that Tyson Fury will put on a tremendous fight. The people of Riyadh and fight fans around the world are in for a real treat.”
Tyson Fury background:
The undefeated Fury, 34, the 6-foot-9 self-styled Gypsy King with a record of 33-0-1 (24 KOs), first became unified world heavyweight champion back in November 2015 when he toppled the long-standing ruler Wladimir Klitschko.
Dusseldorf, Germany, was the scene of one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history, when the unified king was befuddled by the bashful Brit. The Ukrainian was completely outfoxed by his younger challenger and Fury wasn’t to be denied. Klitschko was parted from his four belts and Lineal champion status.
After a lengthy period out of the ring, Fury teamed up with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren to plot his route back to heavyweight domination and, after just two return fights, he accepted the challenge of taking on the previous WBC champion and biggest puncher in world boxing, Deontay Wilder, in December 2018.
The outcome was a hotly disputed draw, which ensured the Fury-Wilder chapter still had a couple more pages to run. Fury linked up with Top Rank and ESPN in America, and a rematch with Wilder took place in February 2020. Fury took many experts by surprise by stating his intention to meet the ferocious hitter in the centre of the ring.
To that end, he teamed up with old comrade SugarHill Steward in order to maximize his own offensive weapons. True to his word, Fury rocked Wilder and put him down in the third and fifth before the towel came in from Wilder’s corner just over halfway through the seventh.
An absolute thriller took place in October 2021 in Las Vegas. Fury picked up where he left off and put Wilder to the canvas in the third before a spirited revival from the ‘Bronze Bomber’ saw Fury down twice in the fourth. The champion prevailed convincingly in the end, with Wilder down the 10th and then out for count in the 11th. An epic trilogy had played out before the eyes of the world.
Francis Ngannou background:
Ngannou, 36, 17-3 (12 KOs) has a life-story that most wouldn’t believe possible. The 6’4, 280-pound physical specimen, hailing from Batie, a small village in Cameroon, Africa, grew up working in a sand quarry starting from the age of 10. At 22 years old, harboring a dream to box, Francis decided to leave on foot across the Sahara, traveling on raft across the Strait of Gibraltar on a life-threatening journey, only to find himself homeless on the streets of Paris, walking into a gym. It didn’t take long for his coaches and peers there to realize his raw talents and God-given power to knock people out.
He was encouraged to enter an MMA tournament to make some extra cash in November 2013, and less than 8 years later, Francis would become the UFC’s first-ever African Heavyweight Champion, knocking out arguably the greatest Heavyweight in UFC History, Stipe Miocic, spectacularly in the second round. In January 2022, Ngannou defended his title against the undefeated interim UFC Champion Ciryl Gane, winning the fight via unanimous decision, all while fighting on a torn ACL and MCL against doctors’ guidance.
In late 2022, Ngannou decided to enter free agency and departed the UFC following the end of his contract, subsequently signing an unprecedented mega-deal as a global strategic partner with global MMA co-leader Professional Fighters League (PFL) and their Super Fights Division in 2023, further serving as the Chairman of PFL Africa, set to launch in 2025.”
Talk of the 34 year old Fury, 33-0-1, 24 KOs, fighting Ngannou has been brewing since “The Gypsy King” had the former UFC heavyweight champ in the ring with him after his title defense KO of Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium in April of 2022.
After dispatching Whyte, with a booming uppercut that night, Fury further hinted a few weeks later that he might be willing to fight Ngannou in a modified boxing/MMA fight, where the fighters use 4 or 6 oz gloves, but use boxing rules with no grappling or submissions.
The Tuesday announcement above didn’t specifically detail glove weight, and number of rounds for the fight. However, it makes clear that it’s a sanctioned boxing match. Now, it will have to meet the requirements for the WBC to be a Fury defense, if not, it will simply be a non-title bout for the champ.
Fury was last in the ring in December at Tottenham Hotspur stadium in a one-sided beating of Derek Chisora that was stopped in the 10th round.
As for Ngannou, as mentioned in the release, after a decade of high profile fights, he won the UFC heavyweight title in March of 2021 by knocking out Stipe Miocic in the second round. He defended the title once in January 2022 and his UFC contract has now expired making him available to fight Fury.
Now, we await more details on the Fury-Ngannou matchup in October.