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.”

Tyson Fury has no chance of losing to Francis Ngannou in the pair's exhibition fight this weekend.

That is according to former boxer turned promoter Oscar De La Hoya, who promised to quit his job if Ngannou pulls off a shock victory.

MMA fighter Ngannou, who has won 17 of his 20 professional fights, is making the move into boxing to face WBC heavyweight champion Fury in a lucrative exhibition bout in Saudi Arabia.

De La Hoya, though, is giving Ngannou little hope.

"As a boxing expert, as a fight expert, as a promoter now and as a boxing historian, if Ngannou beats Tyson Fury then I'll quit my job," De La Hoya told Stats Perform.

"And I love boxing, so I don't plan on quitting! 

"I think Tyson, inside a boxing ring, he's been in there with [Wladimir] Klitschko, he's been in there with [Deontay] Wilder, there's nothing that Ngannou can do to even make Tyson flinch. It's not going to be a good night for Ngannou."

Hall of Fame fighter De La Hoya is promoting Ryan Garcia, with whom he has had something of a complicated relationship. 

Garcia is going up against Oscar Duarte, and like his promoter, he does not see Ngannou having a chance against Fury, hitting out at the "crossover" fight.

"I'm sorry, I don't want to be disrespectful, but I don't see any reality where Ngannou wins," Garcia told Stats Perform.

"There's just no way. I'm a big fan of Fury and I think he's just an unbelievable fighter. He's beaten the best in boxing.

"I'm not going to think that a UFC guy is going to come in and beat him. It's just fun for the fans, man. 

"It's like these crossover TV shows where you get to watch your favourite cartoon being in another cartoon. That's all."

Tyson Fury has vowed to deliver UFC fighter Francis Ngannou his first knockout blow when they go toe to toe in Riyadh on Saturday night.

Heavyweight champion Fury will contest a 35th career bout this weekend, but his WBC title will not be on the line against Ngannou for the 10-round fight.

Fury is set for a long-anticipated undisputed heavyweight showdown with Oleksandr Usyk on December 23, which is also scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia.

First, though, Fury intends to dispatch boxing novice Ngannou, who left the UFC after the end of his contract, a last fight coming in January 2022, before signing up with the Professional Fighters League from 2024.

Trainer SugarHill Steward admitted preparing Fury to take on the Mixed Martial Arts fighter was one of the hardest camps, given they just do not know what to expect from Ngannou.

Fury, though, is confident of what the final outcome will be.

“I have been working with SugarHill to knock him out cold on Sunday night. I have no doubt in my mind that I will knock him out,” Fury said.

“He is a big strong guy. Obviously he has got a good punch, powerful – but so am I. I’m a big strong guy obviously powerful or else I would not be world heavyweight champion.

“I believe there is levels to the game – and he is going to find out my level on Saturday night.”

Fury added: “I have trained for a 12-round war, and if it is anything less it is going to be an early night.

“I’ve been hit by the biggest punches that have ever graced the face of the earth and I’m still undefeated, still standing and I am still number one.

“We are going to see what Francis has got inside of him, see if he’s got the guts to stand and trade with the heavyweight champion of the world and if he has got the belief in his power.

“I’m not convinced. I have heard all this talk before about power, so I’m looking forward to a challenge – and if it is not a challenge, I’ll be disappointed, put in that way.

“I am going to knock that big stiff spark out – and there is nothing he can do about it, no matter who he trains with, no matter who he brings on the night.

“That right hand is going to detonate right in your face, you big ugly dosser.”

During the pre-fight build-up Fury accused Ngannou of being “embarrassed” of his own body.

Fury again goaded the 37-year-old as a “big fat sausage” in Thursday’s media conference ahead of the ‘Battle of the Baddest’.

Cameroon-born Ngannou, though, is fully intent on showing Fury just what he can deliver in a boxing ring rather than the UFC Octagon.

“It might be a little weird, but I really also want to thank Tyson Fury for taking the fight, for taking the risk because he might go to sleep on Saturday night, so I appreciate his courage,” Ngannou said.

Mike Tyson is part of Ngannou’s camp, and enjoyed a verbal sparing with John Fury which saw the 59-year-old Briton challenge the former heavyweight champion to a showdown, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s contest for his son.

Tyson admitted he was not sure what to make of Ngannou’s boxing ability, until he saw him in close quarters.

“At first when this came to me, I said ‘there’s no way this is going to happen’,” Tyson said.

“Then I watched him spar and he hit this guy and he broke his leg when he went down – and I said ‘man, there is a possibility something good could happen here’.

“I have never seen anything like that before. If he could do that man, he could possibly be heavyweight champion of the world.”

Tyson Fury has revealed his undisputed heavyweight showdown with Oleksandr Usyk is set to take place on December 23.

Fury and Usyk signed contracts last month for the eagerly-anticipated clash, which will take place in Riyadh and be the first undisputed contest in the blue riband division since Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield at Madison Square Garden in 1999 when all the belts were on the line.

At the time of the September 29 announcement from Queensberry and K2 Promotions no date for the bout was revealed, but Fury has now seemingly confirmed it will take place two days before Christmas.


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Fury is currently in Riyadh preparing to face UFC fighter Francis Ngannou on Saturday, although has no concerns over the eight-week gap between this weekend’s tune-up bout and the proposed date to take on Usyk.

He told Sky Sports: “We’ve signed the contracts. December 23, that’s out there isn’t it? It’s only eight weeks away from Saturday. Why not?

“I’ve not even had a fight this year so to get two in before the end of the year would be fantastic.

“Double payday. There’ll be a nice big turkey in the Fury household this Christmas!

“If it happens December 23, I’ll be playing that song, ‘Driving Home For Christmas’.

“I won’t land back in the UK until Christmas Eve, late Christmas Eve and if we get a delay I’ll be spending Christmas with the reindeers in the airport!”

Fury will contest the 35th bout of his career this weekend, but his WBC title will not be on the line against Ngannou for the 10-round fight.

Carl Frampton suspects Tyson Fury might be unnerved by Francis Ngannou having Mike Tyson in his corner for Saturday’s showdown.

Born in August 1988, several weeks after Tyson cemented his status as the undisputed world heavyweight champion by knocking out Michael Spinks, Fury was given his forename in honour of the American great.

Fury has a legitimate claim to being the best in boxing’s blue riband division now and is a prohibitive favourite against mixed martial artist Ngannou in a crossover fight which is ostensibly an exhibition.

However, according to Frampton, former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou might have a slight mental edge after employing Tyson as his trainer for his professional debut this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Frampton told the PA news agency: “It might not be a massive issue for Tyson, but it’s definitely something he will feel a bit uncomfortable with, that the guy who he’s named after and a hero to him is going to be in the opponent’s corner.

“Mike Tyson was a small heavyweight, he knew how to fight on the inside and Francis is smaller than Tyson Fury. I think the way Francis wins the fight is to get close and land shots from close distance and there’s no better man to teach you that than Mike Tyson.

“Francis been completely written off by the majority of boxing fans and, to be honest, I understand why. I’m not as sure that he has zero chance of winning – he has a chance but it’s very small.

“He’s an athletic guy, explosive, very, very powerful, but the biggest attribute is that he is highly unorthodox. If he’s throwing shots from every angle, it’s actually really difficult.”

The most prominent crossover fight saw Floyd Mayweather face an early barrage before wearing down Conor McGregor to gain a 10th-round stoppage in their highly-lucrative contest in August 2017.

But Dan Hardy, the first Briton to challenge for a UFC title, urged Ngannou not to be as gung-ho and preserve his energy for the duration of the 10 three-minute rounds.

Hardy told PA: “The faster he starts, the quicker he’s going to tire and the easier it’s going to get for Fury. The longer he can maintain that composure with the threat of a big punch, the more chance he’s got of landing it.

“I would like to see a bit of patience from him, a bit of footwork and good defence, but then ultimately when he does decide to go, to really commit because that’s his strength in this fight.

“Starting in the first minute of the first round would most likely just walk him on to something straight away.”

Fury’s WBC title will not be on the line for a fight many view as a mere tune-up for a bout against WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk, who will be ringside to get a close-up view of his rival.

The pair have agreed a deal for an undisputed world heavyweight title clash, possibly as early as December, but Frampton insists the unbeaten Fury is accomplished enough to keep his focus on Ngannou.

The Northern Irishman, a former two-weight boxing world champion, added: “He’ll almost be looking ahead to the Usyk fight because it’s made and he’ll already be preparing for that fight, even though the Francis Ngannou fight hasn’t taken place.

“But I still do think that he’ll be professional enough to know he has a fight on his hands against Francis, who’s looking to switch his lights out.”

:: Fury v Ngannou will be exclusively live from Riyadh Season, Saudi Arabia, on TNT Sports Box Office on Saturday 28 October. For more information, visit: tntsports.co.uk/boxoffice

Anthony Joshua said he could fight Deontay Wilder as part of a blockbuster boxing fixture which will also feature Tyson Fury’s undisputed heavyweight showdown against Oleksandr Usyk in Saudi Arabia.

Joshua, who raised the prospect of the mouthwatering mega-contest taking place as early as March – also revealed his next fight will be in London, at either the O2 or Wembley Arena, in December.

Fury is back in action against former UFC world heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou next Saturday and a deal to face Usyk – which will see the winner crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion of the four-belt era – in Saudi Arabia has already been agreed.

Speaking in Austin ahead of Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, Joshua, 34, said: “They want to put Usyk v Fury and Joshua v Wilder on the same night.

“When Fury gets through Ngannou it is going to be late October going into November so I doubt he will prepare for Usyk and then fight in December. It is too short.

“So, the next window will be in March or April and that is when the undisputed fight will happen.

“What we are being told is that they want to make it a mega-card.”

Following two defeats to Usyk, Joshua got back on track for a future meeting with former WBC belt-holder Wilder by knocking out Finnish fighter Robert Helenius in the seventh round at London’s O2 Arena in August.

Asked about the identity of his opponent in December, Joshua said: “It won’t be a championship fighter – which is Usyk and Fury. It won’t be none of them guys and I am not too sure about the Wilder situation.”

Asked why a date has not yet been set to face Wilder, Joshua said of the American: “It feels like a land grab at the moment.

“Some fighters want to maximise their revenue. When I first started, you start, you build up your record, you fight and then you fight the big fights.

“But it is like, ‘where can we get the most money for the fight?’. And they want to go to Saudi Arabia so they are waiting for the undisputed fight.

“For my career I have got to stay busy. And in terms of an opponent for December we have got to find the right opponent.”

Joshua, who has been announced alongside golfer Rory McIlroy, England star Trent Alexander-Arnold and World Cup winner Juan Mata as part of a £173million strategic investment led by consortium Otro Capital in Alpine, continued: “I am following my process. They didn’t want me to fight this year. I have fought twice and I could have had a stagnant year.

“I need to follow my process and I am not listening to the noise about Wilder or whoever. When the opportunity comes I will be ready. I am not waiting around for big opportunities.”

Joshua is in Austin supporting Alpine after this week completing a health retreat where he was submerged in darkness for four days.

Tyson Fury hit back at his critics at the launch press conference of his boxing contest with mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou before he hinted at a second bout between the pair in the octagon.

Fury has faced plenty of scrutiny since it was announced in July that he would next step in the ring with former UFC world heavyweight champion Ngannou on October 28 in Saudi Arabia.

While it will be a boxing contest that lasts 10 rounds in Riyadh, Fury’s WBC heavyweight title will not be on the line and this bout occurs amid the backdrop of a potential unification clash with WBA, IBF and WBO-belt holder Oleksandr Usyk falling through.

The Gypsy King was at his charismatic best in London for the fight dubbed ‘Battle of the Baddest’ but aimed at a dig at the media and his detractors who question why he has not been able to arrange a clash for the ages with Usyk.

“I have to take my hat off to Francis for his story, where he has come from, the fight, the grind and the determination to get to where he is. He was a young boy in Africa with a big dream and everybody at home probably laughed at him,” Fury explained.

“But I won’t laugh at anyone because I know man’s struggle. I come from a place where everything is possible. I may not be here today if things had gone differently so I never underestimate anybody. The media say he has no chance.

“I say if I go to the boozer and get in a brawl with a drunken guy, if he hits me, he may knock me out so how am I not going to prepare 100 per cent for an absolute killing machine who is trying to take my brains out? I will give Francis the respect he 100 per cent deserves.

“I need to bring my A-game because there is more on the line than a boxing fight. If I lose to an MMA guy, I will never be able to show my face in public again and I will be ridiculed. People will chuck it at me forever.

“So, if the media want to take it as a joke or whatever, make no mistake I will come into this leaving zero stones unturned. I will come in at my fittest, strongest and at the best I have ever been. If I am not, if I get knocked out, I want people to laugh at me.”

Both of Fury’s promoters, Frank Warren of Queensberry and Top Rank’s Bob Arum, predicted entertainment will be guaranteed next month, but boxing fans will wonder what is next for Britain’s world heavyweight champion.

Talk continues to rumble on over if Fury could fight compatriot Anthony Joshua in 2024 or if a unification clash may happen with Usyk after the Lancashire boxer beat Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora last year in one-sided fights.

Yet, the 35-year-old dropped a big hint there could be a second tale between himself and Ngannou, who is preparing for his boxing debut.

Fury insisted: “I think I could beat you in the cage. I would kick your a*** in the cage, no problem. One hundred per cent. Personally, I will beat you in the boxing ring and then kick your a*** in the cage.”

This fight will kick off Riyadh season in Saudi Arabia and Fury provided a chilling prophecy of what the future could hold in store for the Middle East country, which is repeatedly criticised by anti-human rights groups and accused of sportswashing.

He added: “It is a very special event for me and a special time in sports where a powerhouse like Saudi Arabia are coming in taking over the game. They are taking over football, taking over boxing, I think within five to 10 years they will be the powerhouse of all sports. All the big sporting events will be in Saudi Arabia somewhere.”

Ngannou will realise a dream by fighting as a professional boxer for the first time and has help from Mike Tyson, who will be in his corner.

Boasting a record of 12 knock-outs in his 17 UFC contests, the 37-year-old from Cameroon promised if his punch lands, it will knock out Fury.

“I ask myself what will happen at the moment that guy hits the floor and doesn’t get up? Does that make me best boxer in the world? If you take out number one, it makes you number one,” Ngannou pondered.

“If it does land, goodnight. Lights off. What do you think will happen? This is a heavyweight fight and that is what is very exciting about heavyweight fights.

“We know everybody in the heavyweight division can knock each other out. I am going in there to fight. To hit and not get hit. That is the rules of boxing and I am very aware of that.”

Former UFC champion Francis Ngannou is "crazy" for agreeing to switch to boxing for October's bout with Tyson Fury, according to unified middleweight champion Claressa Shields.

Ngannou, who relinquished his UFC Heavyweight title as part of his move to the Professional Fighters League (PFL) earlier this year, will make his professional boxing debut against the WBC Heavyweight champion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 28.

Fury's decision to face the unranked Ngannou has been criticised by many boxing fans after the Gypsy King failed to reach an agreement on a unification bout with Oleksandr Usyk earlier this year.

Shields made the opposite switch from boxing to mixed martial arts in 2021 and has a 1-1 PFL record, meaning she is well-versed in the differences between the disciplines. 

Ngannou will be a huge underdog when he steps into the ring for the first time, and while Shields is excited to see him in such a high-profile fight, she knows he is at a major disadvantage.

"It's going to be very interesting fight," Shields told Stats Perform. "Francis left UFC because of low pay. He wasn't being paid properly as a champion, which I felt terrible for – he had a couple of injuries and everything. 

"I think him coming to the PFL, they can offer him a nice cheque and really honour that he was a UFC champion and that he's going to work hard to be PFL champion. 

"I'm happy that Francis is getting his just [reward], fighting against Tyson Fury in boxing. I think he's just so crazy. 

"All the girls in MMA, I think, are very, very smart. If they were to come to box me inside the ring, I would destroy them, truth be told." 

Ngannou is, however, known for his punching power and is being trained for the bout by Mike Tyson, which Shields hopes may help the Cameroon-born fighter keep things interesting. 

"Francis has great hands, but in boxing and in MMA, distancing and everything is completely different," she added.

"I just feel like I just want to see it. I'm excited about it, and Francis is training with Mike Tyson, so we may see some things we weren't expecting to see. 

"I just know that Tyson Fury is a really great boxer. He's strong and I believe Tyson's going to win the fight, but I can't wait to see what Francis does to move from the cage."

Fury has previously discussed the idea of competing in MMA, but Shields is sceptical, adding: "I heard Tyson talking about it, but I don't think he would get inside the cage. 

"Inside the cage, under MMA rules, he gets kicked, [opponents] take you down to the ground and knee you and things like that. I just don't see Fury doing it. But he's crazy, so you never know."

Elsewhere, Anthony Joshua says "positive" talks have taken place over a heavyweight meeting with Deontay Wilder following the Brit's one-punch knockout of Robert Helenius earlier this month.

While Shields is fond of both fighters, she feels compelled to back fellow American Wilder if the bout is made.

"I am a fan of both," she said. "Deontay Wilder's like a big brother to me and Anthony Joshua's the heavyweight I have a crush on because he is so gorgeous! 

"But it has to be the American Deontay. Even though I think Joshua has better skill, I think Deontay Wilder has just got dynamite in both hands and we've seen Joshua get knocked out before. 

"I know I'm going to be cheering for Deontay Wilder, he's like my brother."

Tyson Fury defeated Francesco Pianeta to secure a bout with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, on this day in 2018.

It was Fury’s second fight following a self-inflicted absence in the 10-round contest against the German opponent, while Wilder was sat ringside at Belfast’s Windsor Park to watch the then 30-year-old ease to victory.

Time in the ring was important for Fury as ring-rust was to blame for a few momentary lapses in concentration. He sealed his 27th success from 27 bouts, winning 100-90 on the scorecard of all three judges.

Fury had already secured a fourth-round TKO win over Sefer Seferi in his first fight in nearly three years in June 2018, but he needed more rounds in the ring before agreeing to risky contest with Wilder.

Despite winning both bouts, those were the only fights Fury had with inexperienced trainer Ben Davison before his preparation for the world’s most dangerous heavyweight at the time.

In the first round, Fury showed his skills after being hit by a combination while trapped in the corner, but he remarkably manoeuvred his way out of it before finishing that particular exchange on top.

Fury promised to take Pianeta more seriously than his bout with Seferi, but that still contributed to him switching off and occasionally getting caught by the German.

In the fourth round, Pianeta connected with a left hook which Fury acknowledged with a nod of the head before he was again caught in the sixth with a right uppercut and further left hooks.

Fury continued to break Pianeta down, but he never really looked in danger of being knocked down in the bout. His lack of power was visible in the eighth round when a left hook, his best punch of the fight, did not trouble Pianeta.

The 25,000-strong crowd recognised the lack of drama by booing at the final bell, but their boos then turned to cheers when Wilder joined Fury in the ring to confirm their future fight.

Anthony Joshua has some admiration for Tyson Fury’s uncompromising attitude but believes his British rival should be fighting professional boxers and not mixed martial artists.

Fury argued he was unable to arrange a showdown with Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk, which led the WBC heavyweight champion agreeing to box MMA star Francis Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

While Fury’s handlers have denied the crossover bout is an exhibition, the 34-year-old will not be defending his world title against the former UFC heavyweight champion, who has never boxed professionally before.

Fury has been accused of holding up the division and Joshua, who has a rematch against Dillian Whyte on August 12 at London’s O2 Arena, admitted he has some sympathy with boxers having to stand by for a title shot.

“I’m not frustrated by that because I’ve been champion and I know my process and I’m on this rebuilding phase but I can understand for people waiting in line it must be massively frustrating,” Joshua said.

“To become champion for some people is the be all and end all. That’s all they want to do and then they can pack up. I feel sorry for the people who want to know where they are going with their career.

“But Fury has to do what Fury has to do for him. I admire the guy for his confidence to do what’s right for him – he has an ‘eff it’ mentality. I think we all need a bit of that in today’s society.

“If you want to hold him accountable then yes he should be fighting active fighters and he should wait until the end of his career, when he’s not champion anymore, to compete with MMA fighters.”

Negotiations for an undisputed fight between Fury and WBA, IBF and WBO champion Usyk broke down earlier this year, with the British fighter attracting the most criticism which intensified after the Ngannou announcement.

The WBC has given Fury special dispensation to take on his Cameroonian-French opponent, in a fight which is expected to be highly lucrative for both combatants, as there is no mandatory challenger in place.

Joshua ruefully reflected that he would still be a world champion now had he ignored his mandatory and vacated one of the crowns now held by Usyk, who outpointed the Briton twice.

“When all is said and done it will just be part of (Fury’s) legacy and I think we will all forget about it sooner or later,” Joshua added.

“Usyk was my mandatory and I ended up losing to him. I would have loved to have gone to Saudi to compete with someone else and make a s*** load of money and swerve my mandatory.

“I would still be champion if I could do that but I didn’t get that opportunity and I had to take it on the chin. But life isn’t always fair.”

Tyson Fury’s next outing will be against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou in a major crossover contest on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Both combatants are widely thought of as the best heavyweights in their fields but while mixed martial artist Ngannou is renowned as a fearsome puncher, he is ultimately stepping into Fury’s world.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points arising from a bout that has excited some, bemused many others and has been dubbed a clash to determine the ‘baddest man on the planet’.

Was this announcement expected?

The pair have traded barbs on social media for many months so it was not a total surprise, but it is underwhelming to a lot of boxing fans. Fury, the WBC champion, has seen negotiations for fights against WBA, IBF and WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk and British rival Anthony Joshua collapse. An undisputed world title showdown against Usyk falling by the wayside is especially disappointing for the sport with each fighter blaming the other for talks breaking down. With Usyk and Joshua now tied up, Fury’s team have argued he was out of credible challengers so in steps Ngannou, who has risen to the top of mixed martial arts but never boxed professionally.

Surely there was someone more capable for Fury?

Usyk will defend his world titles against mandatory challenger and Fury’s promotional stablemate Daniel Dubois while Joshua has elected for a rematch against London rival Dillian Whyte next month. Fury was also linked with former world champion Andy Ruiz Jr, who seems to be leaning towards a fight against Deontay Wilder. Fury taking on a novice will grate with traditionalists but the WBC granted the self-styled Gypsy King permission to fight Ngannou without the title being at stake because there is “no official challenger”.

Is this a gimmick?

While Fury will not be defending his world title, his team have insisted this is not an exhibition. There will be three ringside judges present and the 10-point must system – the scoring criteria used in all of professional boxing – is being implemented. It remains unclear how many rounds are scheduled and if this will count towards Fury’s professional record. Fury’s co-promoter Frank Warren called this a ‘game changer’ but MMA stars crossing over into boxing has been increasingly prevalent since Conor McGregor faced Floyd Mayweather in a lucrative battle.

What is Ngannou’s story?

Ngannou left extreme poverty in his native Cameroon, where he worked in a sand quarry from the age of 10, to pursue a boxing career in Europe. He ended up homeless in Paris in his mid-20s but his potential was recognised in a gym and he was persuaded to switch his focus to MMA, rising through the ranks to become top dog in the UFC. Ngannou was stripped of his title in January amid an acrimonious departure from the UFC and has signed with the Professional Fighters League on an MMA deal only. This has opened the avenue for Ngannou to pursue his first true passion.

What chance does Ngannou have?

MMA fighters have not transitioned well to boxing, with McGregor losing to Mayweather in 2017 while Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva have been beaten by YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul. Going in Ngannou’s favour is his devastating power – he has highlight-reel knockouts few others can match – but the 36-year-old will be wearing bigger gloves against Fury. The Briton knows how to handle formidable punchers having beaten Wilder twice and has promised to stand toe-to-toe with Ngannou. This may open the door fractionally for Ngannou but in any situation he is a massive underdog. Fury is superb technically, can adapt to any situation and has shown he possesses frightening power himself.

What next for Fury, assuming he wins?

A frequent criticism of boxing is it is hard to distinguish who is the best fighter in a weight category given there are four major world titles although the sport has recently got its act together. There have been several undisputed world title fights in the past couple of years but the heavyweight division is the anomaly. Irrespective of who is to blame, this does not reflect well on anybody. Fury, who has attracted the most criticism, argues he is the greatest of this era but fights against Derek Chisora and Ngannou do not pass the muster. No ifs or buts for Fury, Usyk must be next.

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