Tyson Fury to box ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou in crossover fight

The WBC heavyweight champion is set to box one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 11 July 2023 15:01 BST
Tyson Fury seen consoling boxer after first pro loss

Tyson Fury will box ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou in a crossover fight in Saudi Arabia in October, it has been announced.

Fury, who reigns as WBC heavyweight champion, has been struggling to find an opponent for his next title defence and will stay active by boxing Ngannou, one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts, in Riyadh on 28 October.

Per a press release shared on Tuesday (11 July), the fight will be contested “under the official rules of professional boxing, with three 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.”

Fury’s WBC title will not be on the line, and the fight is not expected to count towards his professional record.

Ngannou, 36, held the UFC heavyweight title between 2021 and 2022, and he retained the belt in his most recent fight – a decision win against Ciryl Gane in January last year. The Cameroonian then left the UFC earlier this year amid a pay dispute, before signing with the Professional Fighters League (PFL). As part of his deal with the MMA promotion, Ngannou is allowed to box before he makes his PFL debut in 2024. As such, the “Predator” will take on the unbeaten Fury.

Ngannou is widely seen as the most devastating puncher in MMA history. His pro record stands at 17-3, with 12 of his wins having come via knockout. Of those KO victories, eight took place in Round 1 – with three having been achieved inside the first minute.

Meanwhile, Fury last fought in December, beating Derek Chisora for the third time to retain the WBC heavyweight title. The Briton, 34, has since been in talks over fights with Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, with neither bout materialising. Usyk is instead set to defend his unified heavyweight titles against Daniel Dubois in August, with Joshua planning to face Dillian Whyte in August then Deontay Wilder in late 2023 or early 2024. Fury’s pro boxing record stands at 33-0-1 with 24 knockout wins.

The Briton said: “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 ‘Gypsy King’.

Ngannou knocking out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in 20 seconds (Getty Images)

“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.”

Meanwhile, Ngannou said: “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.

“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.”

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