Home Boxing News Tyson Fury survives scare to sneak by Francis Ngannou, Oleksandr Usyk bout...

Tyson Fury survives scare to sneak by Francis Ngannou, Oleksandr Usyk bout in doubt for this year

Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury. Photo credit: Justin Setterfield

The mooted four-belt unification bout between WBC heavyweight titleholder Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) and WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine champion Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) looks unlikely to take place this year after the British boxer suffered a cut over his left eye in his split decision win over boxing debutant Francis Ngannou.

The 35-year-old Fury was expected to roll through former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou, 37, at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night but that simply wasn’t the case.

The novice boxer surprised everybody with his boxing ability, not least Fury himself, who struggled to get into a rhythm. Ngannou knocked Fury down with a left hook in the third and while he beat the count, be boxed conservatively for the rest of the 10-round non-title bout to win by scores of 94-95, 95-94 and 96-93.

Fury suffered a small cut over his left eye in the second round.

“That definitely wasn’t in the script,” said Fury. “He’s given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years.

“Francis is a hell of 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.”

While Fury’s stock took a hit, Ngannou’s future looks bright.

“I came up short today… but I’m getting ready to take over,” Ngannou said.

Fury shrugged off the third-round knockdown, saying he was never hurt.

“It’s a part of boxing,” he said. “You know, I got caught behind the head again. I wasn’t like hurt or nothing. I was all right. And I got back up, and it was what it was, got back to me boxing.”

Before the fight all the talk was that December 23 would be announced as the date for the Usyk bout once he cruised past Ngannou. That fight is still expected to take place, but this year seems improbable after the grueling nature of today’s fight.

Fury was asked directly if the December 23 was still in play but he was noncommittal in his reply.

“Listen, I’m gonna go home,” Fury said. “I’ve been in training camp now for 12 weeks. I put a long, tough, hard camp in. I’m gonna go home, take a long rest and we’ll see what’s next.”

But Fury reaffirmed the former undisputed cruiserweight champion featured in his future plans.

“It will be our next fight guaranteed,” Fury he said.

Fury’s American co-promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank warned against penciling in the Usyk bout for December 23 prior to the fight against Ngannou.

“What if Tyson gets cut against Ngannou?” Arum said to FightHubTV. “What if he hurts his hand? That’s in the hand of God. Assuming if he gets through the fight with no damage, it’ll happen sooner or later, I don’t know if necessarily December 23 is the date.”