Tyson Fury has scotched speculation of an impending retirement from boxing as he mapped out a five-fight plan, including a couple of showdowns against British rival Anthony Joshua.

Unfounded scrutiny about the legitimacy of an eye injury that caused his fight against Oleksandr Usyk to be put back to May 18 led to suggestions Fury may have been contemplating hanging up his gloves.

But Fury, who has flirted with retiring several times during his professional career, reaffirmed his commitment to fighting Usyk in Riyadh, where all four major world titles are set to be on the line.

Fury anticipates a rematch with the Ukrainian in another undisputed world heavyweight title fight before one or possibly two fights against Joshua and then a return bout versus Francis Ngannou.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tyson Fury (@tysonfury)

 

“I keep hearing talk of people saying I should retire or I’m going to retire soon or whatever,” Fury said on his Instagram, showing stitches above his eye.

“I ain’t retiring – I’ve got two fights with Usyk for the undisputed, twice.

“Then I’m going to fight AJ at least once, maybe twice, if there’s a rematch – if he wants one after the first battering I give him. Then I’m going to fight Ngannou again.

“That’s just the start. There’s five fights for you to whet your appetite. I ain’t going nowhere; I’m 35-years-old and in the prime of my life.”

In his most recent bout in October, Fury (34-0-1, 24KOs) was knocked down but eked out a controversial split points win over Ngannou, who was boxing professionally for the first time.

Just over a fortnight before a much-anticipated bout against Usyk, Fury had to pull the plug because of a cut above his right eye which he sustained in sparring and required “significant stitching”.

But organisers have worked efficiently to rearrange the contest between WBC champion Fury and WBA, IBF and WBO titlist Usyk which will crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.

Tyson Fury’s undisputed world heavyweight title fight with Oleksandr Usyk has been rearranged for May 18, promoters have announced.

The much-hyped encounter had originally been due to take place in Saudi Arabia later this month but was postponed this week after the Briton suffered a “freak cut” above the eye in training.

A statement from Queensbury Promotions on X, formerly known as Twitter, read: “The undisputed heavyweight championship fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk has been rescheduled to May 18th in Riyadh.”

Fury, holder of the WBC belt, required medical attention after suffering the injury during a sparring session.

It is the second time his planned fight with Usyk has been delayed after an initial slot in December failed to materialise.

The winner of the fight, when it eventually takes place, will be crowned as the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era.

Ukraine’s Usyk holds the WBO, WBA and IBF titles.

Oleksandr Usyk could still fight in Saudi Arabia on February 17 despite his showdown with Tyson Fury being shelved, his promoter has confirmed.

This month’s proposed undisputed world heavyweight fight between Usyk and Fury in Riyadh was postponed on Friday after the British boxer suffered a “freak cut” above his right eye in sparring.

It was the latest twist in a long-awaited saga to have all the belts on the line in boxing’s blue-ribbon division, but Usyk could still ensure the card goes ahead.

Usyk’s promoter Alex Krassyuk confirmed on Saturday morning during an Instagram live that he is working on finding the Ukrainian a new opponent, with Filip Hrgovic being lined up due to the Croatian boxer being the mandatory challenger for Usyk’s IBF belt.

“Will Usyk be fighting on the 17th? We are working on that and in the next couple of days a final decision will be taken,” Krassyuk said.

“There is only one option because the IBF has sanctioned the undisputed fight on the condition that after this fight the champion has to fight the mandatory, which is Hrgovic. That means if the champion fights someone else, he will be stripped of his belt by the IBF.

“With Hrgovic, there is a slight chance.”

Fury apologised on Friday night after confirmation that his highly anticipated bout for all four major world heavyweight titles with Usyk had to be postponed.

The facial cut suffered by the ‘Gypsy King’ required medical attention and “significant stitching”, which rules out the possibility of a new date being quickly found.

Krassyuk added: “If we speak about undisputed, it is still a question whether it will happen some day at all?

“We have tried so many times to make it and the more people doubt it will ever take place.

“Let’s hope, let’s pray. Of course we wish Tyson a soonest recovery and hopefully next time nothing will stop him taking punishment from Usyk.”

Tyson Fury’s showdown against Oleksandr Usyk for all four major world heavyweight titles has been postponed because of a “freak cut” the Briton has sustained above his right eye.

Fury was due to defend his WBC belt on February 17 in Saudi Arabia against his Ukrainian rival, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, in the first undisputed world heavyweight title fight of this century.

But with just 15 days to go until one of the most anticipated fights of the year, Fury’s promoters Queensberry announced their charge had suffered an injury during a sparring session at his Riyadh training camp.

Fury said in a statement: “I am absolutely devastated after preparing for this fight for so long and being in such superb condition.

“I feel bad for everyone involved in this huge event and I will work diligently towards the rescheduled date once the eye has healed. I can only apologise to everyone affected.”

Conor Benn must be allowed to fight again in Britain to fill the void left by Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.

Benn follows in the footsteps of father Nigel by headlining in Las Vegas on Saturday but the two failed tests he returned for a banned drug in October 2022 continue to have consequences for his career.

While Benn, who has always insisted he is innocent of wrongdoing, had a provisional suspension lifted last July, UK Anti-Doping and the British Boxing Board of Control launched an appeal against the decision.

Hearn expects that to take place this month and hopes a favourable outcome can see Benn granted a licence to fight in the UK again, amid a lull in major fights in British boxing in the last 12 months.

“When you talk about the biggest names in British boxing, you’ve got Fury and AJ but outside of those two, Conor’s right there,” Hearn told the PA news agency.

“With a lot of the big fights and big names moving internationally at the moment, we really need Conor Benn back in the UK. We want this appeal done and dusted to start letting him fill up arenas in the UK.

“He’s young enough to fly that flag for the next couple of years and we need that, British boxing needs it. The toughest thing is not having a plan, a vision or a schedule in terms of what’s going to happen.

“We’re coming to the end of that whole saga now, I’m sure there’s still a couple of bumps in the road but it just feels like now we’re getting some momentum.”

Benn tested positive for female fertility drug clomifene ahead of a bout against Chris Eubank Jr that was ultimately scrapped and his career has been in limbo for much of the last 18 months.

“I think there is a huge amount of frustration in him,” Hearn said. “He still gets accusations and criticism. It’s an incredible amount of someone’s life that he’s had to go through those adversities.”

Even if Benn cannot fight on home soil yet, Hearn is catering to that audience this weekend as the main event against Peter Dobson at the Cosmopolitan will start around 10:30pm in the UK – 2:30pm local time.

This is Benn’s second fight under US jurisdiction, having made a low-key return by outpointing Rodolfo Orozco last September to extend his unbeaten professional record to 22 wins from as many fights.

Hearn is optimistic of arranging a big fight against Eubank Jr, Kell Brook or Liam Smith in late April or early May but recognises Dobson (16-0, 9KOs) could leave those best-laid plans in tatters.

“We took this fight to stay active but he’s calling out all the big names, we want all the big names and we have to deliver,” Hearn said.

“It’s much easier to deliver those fights in the UK because you know you’re going to fill stadiums and arenas. All of it is irrelevant without victory on Saturday, though.”

Nigel Benn fought twice in Sin City, winning both by first-round stoppage, with victory in 1990 over Iran Barkley especially impressive as the American went on to claim world titles in two weight classes.

“There are so many similarities between Conor and Nigel, particularly in the way they fight – it’s identical,” Hearn added. “I see it so clearly, even when I’m talking to him, he is his father’s son.

“That same violence and ruthless streak that Nigel brought to the ring, Conor does as well. You’ll see that in bundles on Saturday.”

Joseph Parker is certain Tyson Fury will improve on his underwhelming performance against Francis Ngannou when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk in their huge unification bout in February.

Following months of discussions between the fighters' representatives, WBC heavyweight champion Fury will finally take on Usyk – who holds the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and the Ring belts – in Riyadh on February 17.

Fury's plans to face the Ukrainian were almost dealt a surprising blow in October, when he was fortunate to score an unconvincing split-decision win over former UFC Heavyweight Champion and boxing debutant Francis Ngannou.

While many believe Fury's sloppy performance against Ngannou spells bad news for his meeting with Usyk, Parker is certain he will bounce back.

Asked whether he was confident in Fury's chances of victory, Parker told Stats Perform: "Very confident. I'm very confident that Tyson will take care of business.

"Francis Ngannou is a champion himself, the UFC Heavyweight Champion of the world and he put on probably the best camp of his life and a good performance against Tyson. 

"Tyson wasn't the best, he didn't put on the best performance and best display that he could have, but he got the win which is the main thing. 

"Now he's locked in this fight with Usyk on February 17. I think locking in that big fight with Usyk has been a big change for him, and hopefully he has the best camp and puts on the performance that we know he can."

Parker managed a stunning win over Deontay Wilder on Saturday, with the duo fighting on the same card as Anthony Joshua, who stopped Otto Wallin in the fifth round.

Wallin is also backing Fury to step things up for his next fight, suggesting Ngannou's performance simply caught the Gypsy King off guard.

"I didn't think that Ngannou was going to stand any chance, but he did a really good job," Wallin told Stats Perform.

"He lasted 10 rounds, which is really amazing with the limited amount of boxing experience that he has, he did a really good job.

"At the same time, I don't think Fury looked the same in that fight. He didn't look like he was really prepared. He looked off and Ngannou is a strong guy. 

"It's probably awkward coming from MMA, it's not easy to fight those guys. But I think when Fury is going to fight Usyk, he's probably going to step it up.

"Fury really has to be on his A-game. If he is, I think that he's going to win the fight."

Anthony Joshua believes he is getting his "rhythm" back after suffering back-to-back defeats to Oleksandr Usyk.

Joshua lost his IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts against Usyk on points in London in 2021, before the Brit lost another decision to the former undisputed cruiserweight champion in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last year.

Joshua returned to the ring with an uninspiring points win over Jermaine Franklin before stopping Robert Helenius in eight rounds in August.

Those victories have put him back in the heavyweight title picture, setting up a bout with Otto Wallin in Riyadh this weekend. Deontay Wilder is set to fight Joshua Parker on the same card, and a two-fight deal has reportedly been agreed for Joshua and Wilder to meet twice in 2024.

Joshua feels he is getting back to form ahead of his fight this weekend, telling Stats Perform: "The [Oleksandr] Usyk fights were definitely tough times. Not perfect but we live to fight another day.

"But I'm here now and I'm definitely finding my feet again, for sure. That rhythm that one needs to be victorious.

"I set out a plan and I'm sticking to that. It was to be competitive, to fight three times this year. Who knows what will happen in this fight? But I'm leading towards victory.

"In terms of sticking to the plan, I've been consistent, which has helped me get my rhythm back for sure."

With all the potential distractions of future bouts hanging over this weekend's card, Joshua is remaining focused on fight week, saying: "I believe getting through a training camp in good fashion is a big part of being victorious. It's been very challenging and I've pushed myself.

"We're still staying focused. I remain in the camp mindset because I want to still be victorious. I don't want to lose myself with only a week to go and I'm going to get to the fight in good health and a good mindset and just do what I'm supposed to do."

The Wallin fight will be Joshua's first working under Ben Davison, his fifth trainer in three years after previously working with the likes of Robert McCracken and Derrick James.

Joshua is pleased with the impact Davison has had, explaining: "Working with Ben has been good. I've been disciplined. I've followed instructions.

"I'm a fast learner, not many are, but I'm a fast learner. So I take on board what they're saying.

"I trust in what he's saying as well. I wouldn't be in Ben Davison's camp if I didn't trust him and now I just have to do what I'm being told to do on the night of the fight."

Former Joshua conqueror Usyk is set to take on Tyson Fury in February, when a first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era will be crowned.

That fight is not at the front of Joshua's mind, however, with the 34-year-old stating: "I'm not focused on that one at the minute.

"It'll be a good fight. But all I'm focusing on is a day of reckoning and my opponent that's in front of me. I haven't really done a whole breakdown, but I'll be a good fight for sure."

Anthony Joshua says British rival Tyson Fury looked like a “flat slob” in his recent fight with former mixed martial arts champion Francis Ngannou.

Fury, who will fight to become undisputed world heavyweight champion early next year, narrowly avoided an upset when he beat the Cameroonian in a split decision in October.

Joshua, who has given up hope of ever getting the chance to fight for all four heavyweight titles himself, was unimpressed by Fury’s performance.

The 34-year-old told TNT Sports Boxing YouTube Channel: “He just looked like a flat slob that just can’t fight. He says that bodybuilders can’t fight, but he got smacked up by one.

“I’ve always wanted to get in the ring with him. He does a lot of talking, calls me a bodybuilder and stuff, but I want to marvel at the African power – he’s a bodybuilder, steps in and smacks him up for me.”

Joshua, a former holder of the IBF, WBC and WBO titles, previously targeted unification fights against Fury and Deontay Wilder when he was champion, but neither came to fruition.

Fury, the current WBC champion, will get the opportunity to fight for all four major belts when he takes on Oleksandr Usyk in February.

Joshua returns to the ring against Sweden’s Otto Wallin in Saudi Arabia later this month and fears the belts will be separated again before he has the get the chance to fight the victor.

He said: “It won’t happen anymore. I think it’s just the reality.

“What will happen is that Usyk and Fury are now in position to compete for the undisputed, and once they compete for the undisputed, the belts will get split up again.

“And I feel probably it would take me about five to six years to go through and get all the belts, beat all the independent champions. That will probably take me on to being 40-41, so it’s probably not in my timeframe.”

:: Watch the full interview on the TNT Sports Boxing YouTube Channel. ‘Day of Reckoning’, Saturday December 23, as part of Riyadh season, will be available live on TNT Sports Box Office and DAZN. For info on how to watch visit www.dayofreckoning.co.uk.

Former world heavyweight champion David Haye was advised by doctors to retire from boxing on this day in 2013.

The then 33-year-old was told to think about ending his 11-year professional career after undergoing five hours of surgery in Germany in an attempt to reconstruct his right shoulder.

Haye had been due to face fellow Briton Tyson Fury in a rearranged bout in Manchester the following February, but was forced to cancel the fight for a second time, having previously pulled out of a September date due to a cut above his left eyebrow.

In a statement on Haye’s website, he said: “I genuinely believed the shoulder injury wasn’t that bad.

“But the doctor sent me for a detailed MRI scan and within 24 hours I was told the full extent of the damage. Twenty-four hours after that I was in the operating theatre.

“It’s a crushing blow for me. I had big plans for next year and the ultimate goal was to win back the world heavyweight title, something my amazing fans deserve.

“What I didn’t anticipate was that this year would be the unluckiest of my career and that a number of injuries would disrupt my plans so much.

“Perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be. The boxing Gods keep hinting that maybe enough is enough and that it’s time to finally hang up my gloves.”

Despite the medical advice, Haye returned to the ring four years later with wins over Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj in 2016.

He had become unified cruiserweight world champion by stopping fellow Briton Enzo Maccarinelli in 2008 and beat Russian Nikolay Valuev for the WBA heavyweight title in 2009.

The Bermondsey fighter finally announced his retirement in June 2018 after back-to-back losses to Tony Bellew, walking away from the sport aged 37 with 28 career wins – 26 by knockout – from 32 fights.

Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will finally clash in Riyadh on February 17.

The heavyweight rivals were expected to meet on December 23 only for Fury’s disappointing performance in a split-decision victory over MMA star Francis Ngannou last month to force a delay.

Fury’s WBC belt and the WBA, IBF and WBO titles held by Usyk will be on the line with the winner crowned the division’s first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis in 2000.

A date for Tyson Fury’s undisputed world heavyweight title fight with Oleksandr Usyk is set to be revealed on Thursday.

Fury had been expected to clash with WBA, IBF and WBO champion Usyk on December 23, but the British boxer was left blooded and bruised in a contentious points win over Francis Ngannou last month.

That fight was rumoured to be the preamble to the announcement of Fury taking on Usyk and even though the pair got in the ring together, the swollen eye and cut on the forehead of the Gypsy King pushed back the widely-reported proposed date, but an announcement is expected for Thursday.

Bob Arum, chief executive at Fury’s American promoter Top Rank, told Sky Sports: “I can confirm they will fight each other in Saudi Arabia.

“There will be a press conference in London for Thursday of this week – the 16th – and they’ll confirm the date and all the other circumstances of the fight taking place.

“Tyson is ready to fight in February, if that’s when it happens. Remember going in with Ngannou, who showed himself to be very talented, nobody had a book on him because he had never had a prize fight.

“Fighting Usyk is totally different because they have reams and reams of film on Usyk. So, I think Tyson will be a lot better prepared against Usyk than he was against Ngannou.

“I have great confidence in Tyson Fury.

“I really believe Fury against Usyk will be a classic match.”

Tyson Fury has been backed to defeat Oleksandr Usyk when the heavyweights finally meet in their highly anticipated bout.

Fury and Usyk are set to meet in a fight that is tentatively scheduled for early 2024.

Widely considered as the world's leading heavyweight, Fury was pushed to the limit by UFC brawler-turned-boxer Francis Ngannou in a non-title bout in Riyadh on Saturday.

Indeed, Fury was fortunate to come away with a win, with two judges deciding in his favour.

Ryan Garcia, who is set to fight Oscar Duarte in December, believes the undefeated Fury will still have too much for Usyk, though.

"The Gypsy King, that's it," Garcia told Stats Perform.

"He's the best, the Gypsy King is an unbelievable talent. And he has an amazing personality. He's super, super cool."

Fury's meeting with Usyk will quench a long-held thirst, though despite years of posturing, a battle of the Britons between the 35-year-old and Anthony Joshua is yet to take place.

"I'll be excited to see him versus Anthony Joshua one day, I would want to go to that one that will be huge," Garcia said.

"And that’s the one I would actually be looking forward to more [than Fury v Usyk], to be honest."

Fury, for his part, was honest in his appraisal of his own performance against Ngannou in Saudi Arabia.

"He's given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years," Fury said. "Francis is a hell of a fighter, strong, big puncher, and a lot better boxer than we all thought he would be.

"He's a very awkward man and he's a good puncher and I respect him a lot."

Fury and Usyk bumped into each other in Riyadh prior to Saturday's fight, with the pair sharing an embrace.

And the duo faced off in the ring following the bout, with Fury saying:  "Let's go,"

Usyk added: "Let's go. I'm going to be fighting him, amazing."

Tyson Fury was given a major scare before eking out a split decision win over Francis Ngannou but a showdown against Oleksandr Usyk on December 23 now appears unlikely.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what went down in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between the heavyweight rivals and the potential ramifications.

What happened?

Fury, by his own estimation the greatest heavyweight of all-time, was not only expected to win but put on a show against a mixed martial artist who had never before boxed professionally. While Ngannou holds the record for the hardest punch ever recorded, he is 37, had not fought in any capacity since January 2022 and had undergone reconstructive knee surgery in the interim. Labelled as a circus event unbecoming of boxing in certain quarters, Fury was almost the clown. Put down in the third round, he was tentative throughout and fortunate to get a razor-thin points win.

Why was the fight so close?

Only Fury can answer that. He suggested he was suffering from ring rust, having last fought in December 2022 although that does not hold much water when considering Ngannou’s activity in the past two years. The obvious response is that what appeared a gross mismatch on paper led to Fury wildly underestimating his opponent. Did he cut corners in training? Some observers felt Fury was extra fleshy for this fight. He was given the benefit on the scorecards – just. But if the judge who saw it 95-94 for Fury had scored one round the other way, Ngannou would be celebrating one of the greatest sporting upsets ever.

Was Ngannou robbed?

The shock knockdown allied to landing the more eye-catching blows left many wondering whether Ngannou should have had his hand raised. There is little doubting the result could have gone either way. LeBron James and Gary Lineker were among the most prominent critics of how the judges scored the fight but a robbery indicates Ngannou had everything his own way and that simply was not the case. Fury could not adjust to Ngannou’s awkward style although he employed the jab well and put together the odd combination. But just because Ngannou exceeded any expectations, it does not mean he was swindled.

What next?

As well as perhaps feeling a little chastened, Fury was left with a slight cut on his forehead and bruising over his left eye, injuries he would not have foreseen before the first bell rang. Usyk was brought into the ring afterwards and there was the expectation the undisputed fight between the WBA, IBF and WBO titlist and Fury, the WBC champion whose belt was not on the line in the 10-round encounter on Saturday, would be officially announced at the same venue for just before Christmas. The pair had a brief staredown but the hype was not there following Fury’s underwhelming performance. Fury’s promoter Frank Warren hinted his charge’s wounds would prevent a December clash.

Should we expect more crossover fights?

Yes. MMA has often been viewed as boxing’s poorer relation, both in terms of its actual standing and how the sports recompense their fighters. MMA fighters have generally not done well in a boxing ring – Conor McGregor, Anderson Silva and Nate Diaz have all faltered in recent years – but Ngannou has single-handedly raised his sport’s stock. Ngannou’s success will almost certainly pave the way for more MMA stars while the Cameroonian-Frenchman said in the aftermath he intends to juggle boxing with his duties in the Professional Fighters League.

Could a Fury-Ngannou rematch be on the cards?

The millions both fighters banked plus the disputed nature of the result means a return bout seems almost inevitable – even if Fury intimated afterwards the Usyk fight will be next for him. While he extended his record to 34 wins and one draw from 35 contests, will Fury be satisfied that so many thought he lost to a boxing novice? Surely he will want to correct the record down the line? For now, though, Fury announced his intention to return home and spend time with his family after what he said was a long training camp and the likelihood is he will not be seen in the ring until 2024.

Tyson Fury is doubtful to face Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed world heavyweight title on December 23 after being left bloodied and bruised in a contentious points win over Francis Ngannou.

What seemed a total mismatch on paper between the unbeaten WBC champion and a mixed martial artist making his professional boxing debut in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, almost went awry for Fury.

Fury was expected to toy with the former UFC heavyweight champion but instead endured a torrid night, receiving a small cut on his forehead before being knocked down in the third round.

Fury rose almost straight away but was clearly unnerved by an awkward opponent whose style he could not quite get to grips with, relying on his jab and the odd combination to get by over the 10 rounds.

Ngannou produced the flashier blows, leading to an outcry on social media when Fury was awarded a split decision win, given the nod 96-93 and 95-94 on two scorecards as a third judge sided against him 95-94.

The fight was rumoured to be the preamble to the announcement of Fury taking on Usyk just before Christmas and the WBA, IBF and WBO champion was ringside as he engaged in a staredown with the Briton.

While Fury, who was also left with a swollen left eye, was animated, there was an overall flat feeling after he had his hand raised and his promoter Frank Warren issued a more sobering appraisal.

“Tyson’s got a cut there so it’s no good setting a date whilst he’s got that cut on the top of his head – we’ve got to see how that heals,” Warren said in the ring afterwards.

“He’s going to rest up, that’s what’s going to happen next then he’ll make his decision (about) what he wants to do because he’s the boss. But this fight is on. It’s just a matter of now setting a date.”

There was no celebratory press conference following the fight after Fury (now 34-0-1, 24KOs) admitted he had been given one of the toughest tests of his career by the former UFC heavyweight champion.

However, he told Usyk in the ring: “I’m a fighter, he’s a fighter, I’m sure we’d go now. We’re prizefighters, let’s go now if you want. These guys (promoters) will sort it all out and it’ll be on.”

Usyk, a London 2012 gold medallist and former undisputed world cruiserweight champion who has won all 21 of his professional contests, said: “We’re back in this ring on 23 December, I’m ready to fight.”

Fury had likened Ngannou’s chances in the non-title bout to that of a table tennis champion facing Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final – and his words came back to bite him post-fight.

Ngannou, 37, who had not fought in any capacity since January 2022 and had reconstructive knee surgery in that time, said pointedly on X, formerly known as Twitter: “Table Tennis champion of the world.”

The Cameroonian-Frenchman also took aim at the scorecards, adding: “This boxing world wild but some judges should be responsible for their actions. This type of stuff is what f**** up people’s career.”

Ngannou also shared the thoughts of American basketball great LeBron James, who wrote: “Exactly why i don’t watch boxing! C’mon man!”. Former England striker Gary Lineker added: “We’ve just seen a robbery.”

Andy Murray, former world number one tennis player, believes boxing has suffered a setback following Fury’s hugely unconvincing showing in this crossover event.

He wrote: “How many points would the world no1 squash player win vs the world number 1 tennis player in a tennis match and vice versa? Im thinking close to zero for both….bad look for boxing.”

Lennox Lewis, the last heavyweight to be undisputed champion before the four-belt era, was among the boxing royalty ringside and was similarly unimpressed by Fury.

He said: “The lion can’t let the shark come into the jungle and nearly beat him. Ngannou’s stock is up. Fury’s stock is down in a luckluster win for Fury.”

Tyson Fury had to get up off the canvas before grinding his way to a highly unconvincing split decision win over Francis Ngannou in their heavyweight showdown in Saudi Arabia.

What appeared a mismatch between the WBC champion and a mixed martial artist boxing professionally for the first time did not go according to plan for Fury, who was decked by a left hook in the third round.

Despite rising to his feet almost immediately, Fury was on unsteady legs in the moments afterwards before getting behind his jab, keen to stay out of range of the former UFC heavyweight champion.

Fury ate a few more big shots and ended the fight with a cut above his forehead and a welt under his left eye – which could have an impact on a proposed showdown against Oleksandr Usyk on December 23.

But the Briton, whose world title was not on the line, was spared what would have been one of the biggest upsets of all-time after being given the nod 96-93 and 95-94 on two scorecards, as the third judge sided with Ngannou 95-94 following an unexpectedly keenly contested 10-round encounter.

“That definitely wasn’t in the script,” Fury said in the ring immediately after improving his record to 34 wins and one draw.

“Francis is a hell of a fighter; strong, a big puncher and a lot better boxer than we all thought he would ever be. He’s a very awkward man and a I respect him a lot – before the fight and afterwards.

“He’s given me one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years. I don’t know how close it was but I got the win and that’s what it is. No excuses, Francis caught me with some good punches, fair play to him.”

The fight was billed as the start to ‘Riyadh Season’, with Saudi Arabia heavily criticised for trying to ‘sportswash’ its reputation and distract from its long history history of human rights abuses.

After fans shuffled to the main arena from a nearby venue which held the undercard, there was an opening ceremony featuring performances from musicians, accompanied by dancers, and culminated in a boxing ring rising from the floor on to the stage.

It was an elaborate spectacle in front of a star-studded crowd which included rappers Kanye West and Eminem as well as footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, plus a host of boxing and MMA royalty such as Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Manny Pacquiao, Roberto Duran, Lennox Lewis, Ricky Hatton and Conor McGregor.

Both fighters wore crowns and sat on thrones before making way their way to the ring, Ngannou for the first time aged 37. After the anthems and introductions, there was an expectation the Cameroonian-Frenchman would bull rush his foe but it was Fury who threw a wild overhand right at the outset.

He landed a good jab to the body and head and even appeared to be giving instructions to Ngannou when they were in the clinch, calling to ‘break’. The smaller and slightly lighter Ngannou seemed plodding in comparison as Fury ended the round with a solid combination which rocked his rival’s head back.

However, Ngannou started to settle in the second round and connected with a lead left look before an accidental head clash. It was unclear which caused the cut to Fury’s head but it unsettled the world champion who repeatedly touched the small wound.

If that was a minor issue, Fury had to confront a major setback in the third round after a clubbing counter left hook to the side of his temple – above his right ear – put him on his back.

Ngannou taunted his adversary, briefly dancing over him, but while it was a flash knockdown, it instantly swung the momentum of the fight. From that point Fury was reluctant to engage too much, wary of the power of a man who holds the world record for the hardest punch ever recorded.

Fury was off-balance again in the fourth before rediscovering some rhythm with a jab and right hand in the fifth although he stayed at range, refusing to allow Ngannou any chance of a response.

The pattern of Fury staying on the outside and flicking out the jab continued into the sixth and while Ngannou seemed to be tiring, he was able to routinely outmuscle the favourite in the rare clinches.

There was a lack of urgency down the stretch from Fury and he soaked up another heavy left from Ngannou in the eighth before perhaps doing just enough to nick the final two rounds and with it: the fight.

This was not the tune-up Fury would have envisaged for an undisputed world title showdown against Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion who was ringside to witness his rival’s underwhelming display.

“It will be our next fight guaranteed,” Fury added. “I’m going to go home, take a long, hard rest and we’ll see what’s next.”

Page 1 of 13
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.