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Rival promoter expects embarrassed Tyson Fury to shun the media in wake of close call

Tyson Fury peels himself off the canvas against Francis Ngannou. Photo credit: Sky Sports

Eddie Hearn thinks WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury 34-0-1 (24) will struggle to come to terms with his close call against boxing debutant and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou 0-1 at Boulevard Hall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

The 35-year-old Brit had to rise from the canvas in the third round to eke out a split decision win over Cameroonian Ngannou, 37, by scores of 94-95, 95-94 and 96-93 in their 10-round non-title bout.

Matchroom Boxing boss Hearn, who promotes Fury rival and two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 26-3 (23), says the self-styled Gypsy King will not be pleased with how the fight played out.

“I think Tyson is going to find it difficult over the next few weeks, because it’s going to be on top of him,” Hearn said on The MMA Hour.

“And he doesn’t like that. He won’t like the criticism. And he’ll probably take a break from social media or media and just sort of slip away, and say, ‘I’m going to just chill,’ and family time and Christmas and stuff like that. But it will hurt him, the criticism, because it’s massively tainted his legacy.”

Fury was expected to announce after the fight that his mooted bout against WBA, WBO, IBF and Ring Magazine heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 21-0 (14) would take place in Saudi Arabia on December 23, but those plans have been put on hold for now.

If the fight does eventuate, it will not take place until the first quarter of next year at the earliest.

“It’s an interesting dynamic now,” Hearn continued. “I said after the interview, it was a bit of a snap reaction, that the Usyk-Fury fight is dead. It’s obviously not dead. It’s still a big fight.

“But the value of that fight has plummeted because really, you want to see him rematch Francis Ngannou. And I think Francis Ngannou now sits there with plenty of opportunities.

“It’s actually amazing for boxing and MMA. A lot of people are saying, ‘This is terrible for boxing, some guy has just come in and beat Tyson Fury.’ It’s like, mate, do you know how many people are talking about boxing today?

“I just got back, I’ve been to the gym, everyone’s talking about it — and if you’re Francis Ngannou right now, you’re sitting there as one of the most valuable boxers in the world.

“And you’re right, he can go back into the MMA world and have a massive fight. Now he’s a huge name. Huge. Good luck to him.”

Hearn admitted he was just as stunned as anyone that Ngannou was able to perform as well as he did.

“I’ve never seen Tyson Fury [look like that],” Hearn said. “He looked petrified. When he got dropped in the third round, he did not want to engage. He was thrown around like a rag doll in the clinch.

“That Francis did so many basic things well in there… his guard was solid, he caught shots… I’m still [shocked].”