UFC's Francis Ngannou on Boxing Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder: I'd 'Like to Test Myself'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 31, 2021

Cameroon's Francis Ngannou, world champion of heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA), poses for a portrait in Bafoussam, Cameroon, on May 1, 2021. - Francis Ngannou, world champion of heavyweight mixed martial arts (MMA), made a triumphant return to his native village of Batié, in western Cameroon, on May 1, 2021.
Nicknamed "The Predator", he defeated American titleholder Stipe Miocic by knockout on March 28, becoming the first African to win the world title in the most prestigious league, the American Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). (Photo by Daniel Beloumou Olomo / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL BELOUMOU OLOMO/AFP via Getty Images)

Before Francis Ngannou steps away from combat sports, he wants to test his mettle in a boxing ring—and not against some random scrub opponent.

"Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder. I would like to test myself to that level," the UFC star told TMZ Sports. "It's not the same sport, although I'm the champion, I'm in the top in this division. At the end of the day, it's just about like trained hands, trained punches, having a good delivery system to produce bombs, and I'm sure that if I deliver my own punch, it's pretty good, I can make some damage."

Ngannou has no professional boxing experience but holds the record for the world's hardest punch. Twelve of his 19 wins in MMA have come via knockout, including each of his last five as he ascended to the UFC heavyweight championship.

"It's always been down the line. This is something I'm not taking my eyes off of. It's gonna happen, either way. Even if, when the UFC and I finalize a deal, the boxing part has to be into it because I can't see myself [retiring] without boxing," Ngannou said.

Ngannou and the UFC have one fight remaining on their contract together. He's set to fight Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 next month, after which his future in combat sports is completely up in the air. 

Ngannou vs. Fury or Wilder would be the type of once-in-a-lifetime matchup that could break records at the pay-per-view box office. He could be looking at a payday similar to the one Conor McGregor made when he went up against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.