Fury entered Riyadh with an unbeaten professional record, while ex-UFC champion Ngannou was making his boxing debut. Fury, 35, did not defend his WBC heavyweight title in the fight, which went for all 10 scheduled rounds and saw Ngannou, 37, arguably do enough to beat the boxer.
The Cameroonian dropped the Briton with a left hook in Round 3, stunning those in attendance and the wider combat-sports world. Ngannou continued to outbox Fury for much of the bout, only to be denied a victory when the scorecards were read aloud.
After a close fight, Fury was named a split-decision winner, and he faced off with unified heavyweight boxing champion Oleksandr Usyk, whom he is expected to fight next – also in Saudi.
Re-live all the action with our fight updates and results, below.
Usyk: ‘I was shouting advice to Fury’ during poor showing vs Ngannou
“At the knockdown, I said, ‘Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah – Francis, be careful, please!’” Oleksandr Usyk told Boxing King Media.
“I said, ‘Tyson, jab, jab, move, jab!’ I said. It’s true, I was a little bit nervous that our fight was possibly in jeopardy. I even started to shout out to him some small things, like: ‘Use your jab, jab him faster.’ That’s it.
““It might look weird when my future opponent is fighting, and I’m here cheering him on and backing him, shouting some tips for him. It looks weird probably, but from the other point of view: Myself, my team, my country, the whole world wants to see [our] fight happening, so that’s why it’s important we do everything possible to make it happen.”
Fury was knocked down by Ngannou before controversially winning a decision against the MMA star – and facing off with Usyk, whom the Briton is due to box next
Francis Ngannou has always been put in a box – unfairly so
Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk date in doubt as Francis Ngannou result changes plan
Tyson Fury’s heavyweight unification showdown with Oleksandr Usyk is now unlikely to take place on December 23 after Francis Ngannou forced a change of plan with his stunning performance in Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.
Usyk was ringside for Fury’s unconvincing split-decision victory over ex-UFC champion Ngannou in Riyadh and the Ukrainian appeared to confirm their meeting for all four heavyweight belts on 23 December in Saudi Arabia.
But Ngannou’s unexpected performance has led to change of plan. The MMA star shockingly went the distance in his boxing debut, even knocking down reigning WBC heavyweight champion at one point.
While Fury remained undefeated, edging the contest on the scorecards, the 35-year-old was bruised by Ngannou’s display and is now set to take time off rather than hurrying into another camp in order to make the December 23 date.
Even though contracts are believed to have been signed for a December, the fight now appears more likely to take place in January or February.
Even though contracts are believed to have been signed for a December 23 date, the fight now appears more likely to take place in January or February
Steve Bunce: Fury embarrassed by Ngannou and the punch that changed boxing
Francis Ngannou came close to pulling off the biggest and most outrageous shock in boxing history just after midnight on Saturday in Riyadh.
Ngannou had never once fought as a boxer, but for ten rounds he bullied, pushed, clubbed, hit and dropped the unbeaten world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury.
At the end of ten rounds, Fury won a controversial split decision to remain unbeaten, but his bruised and bloody face was harsh and undeniable testimony to the success Ngannou had throughout the fight.
It was called a freak show, a circus event and the carnival fight was meant to be an easy night in the ring for Fury; at ringside, the other unbeaten heavyweight champion, Oleksandr Usyk, was waiting with a smile on his face and his contract for a fight with Fury in his pocket. He was not smiling at the end.
By Steve Bunce in Riyadh
Fury survived a stunning knockdown in the third round to remain unbeaten, but the heavyweight division has been shaken up by Ngannou’s magnificent debut
Eddie Hearn makes bold Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua prediction after Francis Ngannou win
Eddie Hearn claimed Tyson Fury’s performance against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou showed that Anthony Joshua would “knock Fury out inside six rounds” if the British heavyweight rivals were to ever meet in the ring.
Fury survived a knockdown and avoided the first loss of his professional career when he was named a split-decision winner against Ngannou in Saudi Arabia. Ngannou, was making his boxing debut yet outfought Fury for much of the bout, as a stunned audience looked on.
The 37-year-old former UFC champion was a massive underdog but produced a superb performance with immense discipline and aggression, and many figures in the world of boxing declared that the “Predator” had been denied a rightful win.
After the fight, Oleksandr Usyk entered the ring to face off with Fury, whom he is contracted to fight next. Ukrainian Usyk, unbeaten like Fury, holds the unified heavyweight boxing titles. The pair have been rumoured to clash in Riyadh on 23 December, though Fury and his promoter Frank Warren played coy after the fight with Ngannou.
But Hearn, who promotes Joshua, believes that is not the fight the boxing world wants to see after Fury’s performance against Ngannou.
Hearn claimed Joshua would have no problems with Fury after his split-decision victory over Ngannou
Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou punch stats reveal surprise result after controversial split-decision
The outcome of Tyson Fury’s split-decision victory over former UFC champion Francis Ngannou has proved controversial - but the punch stats from the heavyweight crossover fight have revealed a different story.
Fury survived a knockdown and avoided the first loss of his professional career when he was named a split-decision winner – 94-95, 96-93, 95-94.
Ngannou, was making his boxing debut yet outfought Fury for much of the bout, as a stunned audience looked on in Riyadh.
The 37-year-old former UFC champion was a massive underdog in the main event in Riyadh but produced a superb performance with immense discipline and aggression, and many figures in the world of boxing declared that the “Predator” had been denied a rightful win.
But while Ngannou scored the most memorable moments of the fight - including his stunning knockdown in the third round, clipping Fury on the top of the head with a fine left hook, stats have revealed that it was the Gypsy King who landed the most punches during the 10-round contest.
Boxing fans believe the former UFC champion was ‘robbed’ - but do the punch stats reveal a different story?
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk confirm date and location for heavyweight unification fight
Tyson Fury has vowed to fight Oleksandr Usyk for the chance to become the undisputed king of heavyweight boxing as the Ukrainian confirmed their meeting on 23 December in Saudi Arabia.
Usyk was ringside for Fury’s unconvincing split-decision victory over ex-UFC champion Francis Ngannou in Riyadh on Saturday night.
MMA star Ngannou shockingly went the distance in his boxing debut, even knocking down reigning WBC heavyweight champion Fury at one point, but Fury remained undefeated. Two judges gave Fury the fight by scores of 96-93 and 95-94, and the other judge favoured Ngannou 95-94.
Fury’s championship belt was never on the line in this bout, though it counts as an official fight. Good thing for Fury, because Ngannou showed early in the scheduled 10-round fight that he wasn’t going anywhere.
Afterwards Usyk, who owns the other three global heavyweight belts, turned attention to their showdown, saying: “It’s a big fight. The whole world wants this fight. We’re back in this ring, 23 December, thank you very much, I go to sleep.”
Here’s the latest
Usyk watched on as Fury struggled to a split-decision victory over Francis Ngannou on Saturday night
Tyson Fury survives knockdown to beat Francis Ngannou by controversial decision
Tyson Fury survived a knockdown and went on to beat Francis Ngannou in a controversial decision on Saturday night, avoiding a major upset.
WBC heavyweight champion Fury squared off with Ngannou – a mixed martial artist and ex-UFC champion – in a professional boxing match in Saudi Arabia, with the Cameroonian stunning the Briton in Round 3 with a knockdown, clipping him on the top of the head with a fine left hook.
Ngannou, 37, was making his boxing debut yet outfought Fury, 35, for much of the bout, as a stunned audience looked on in Riyadh.
However, Fury avoided the first loss of his professional career when he was named a split-decision winner – 94-95, 96-93, 95-94.
Report by Alex Pattle
The mixed martial artist dropped the heavyweight boxing champion in Saudi Arabia but was denied a win
Fury def. Ngannou via split decision
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Fury def. Ngannou via split decision
Not your rule-set, Tyson.
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