4 Pros and Cons to a Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou Superfight

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2022

4 Pros and Cons to a Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou Superfight

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    It was the promotional shot heard round the world.

    Moments after Tyson Fury vaporized Dillian Whyte in defense of his WBC heavyweight boxing championship Saturday night, he brought a jam-packed Wembley Stadium crowd to its feet with a cordial callout.

    UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, he beckoned, come on down.

    "We're going to find out who is the baddest mother f--ker on the planet," Ngannou said, after Fury summoned him into a post-fight interview. The Cameroonian star said the match would feature hybrid rules—in a boxing ring with MMA gloves—and suggested it'd be "kind of like mixed up to make something a little different."

    Fury agreed, saying: "This is going to be a very special fight. Like never before seen in the history of our sport. We're not talking two light guys, 140 pounds. I'm 270; he's 270. It's going to be an explosive fight when it happens." 

    Needless to say, the spontaneous announcement sparked reaction in many directions.

    The B/R combat sports team got in on the act, too, and put together a quick list of pros and cons regarding a would-be showdown between the two gigantic belt-holders. Scroll through to see what we came up with and feel free to drop in a viewpoint or two of your own in the comments section.

Pro: Big Money/Attention

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    Go ahead, say you're not at least a little intrigued by it all. 

    Actually, don't bother. We don't believe you anyway.

    With all due respect to Whyte, Deontay Wilder, Otto Wallin and Tom Schwarz—the four men Fury has faced across his last six fights—there's no opponent on the charismatic Briton's recent resume who carries anything close to the wow factor that would be generated by a combat sports summit with Ngannou.

    The mere image of them in the ring together created instant buzz, and a video of their meeting already had better than a million views within just 16 hours of its posting by Top Rank, Fury's U.S.-based promoter.

    And considering a crossover bout between welterweights Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor garnered more than four million pay-per-buys in 2017two years after Mayweather retired as a full-time fighterit's no stretch to suggest a duel between active, relevant heavyweight bombers would generate huge revenue, too.

    "I believe it breaks all pay-per-view records in the United States," Fury said.

    ESPN's Joe Tessitore, who called the Whyte fight, agreed.

    "A fight of any sort against Ngannou in a cross-promotionand by the way they're both under the same network, they're both under the Disney network of ESPNis a major mega global event," he said.

    "If you're telling me in the interim, come late summer or come the fall, that it's Fury against Ngannou to cash tens of millions of dollars if not a pay-per-view that's generating nine figures, hundreds of millions of dollars, then you come back and you fight the winner of Usyk-Joshua? That's a pretty nice bank account."

Con: Another Sideshow Fight

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    Then again, one man's intrigue is another man's outrage.

    Anyone not particularly thrilled with the onset of sideshow fights involving the likes of Jake Paul is likely not too anxious to drop $100 or so to watch another boxer fight another mixed martial artist.

    Go ahead and chalk ESPN commentator Mark Kriegel up as a no vote.

    "I don't want to see some kind of MMA hybrid thing. If you're out, you're out," he said, referring to Fury's pre-fight promise that he'd retire after fighting Whyte. "If you're gonna come back, come back and fight the winner of Usyk-Joshua. If it's really about legacy or history and being done or not done, if that's the case, then I want business to be resolved in the sport of boxing."

    Indeed, Fury was on the verge of a two-fight series with countryman Anthony Joshua, then the IBF, WBA and WBO champion, before the former Olympic champion was beaten by ex-cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk last September. Usyk and Joshua will fight again later this year, setting the stage for the bout Kriegel and others covet and a chance to have the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis.

    But if he does choose the Ngannou path, he wouldn't be the first boxer to color outside the lines.

    Jack Dempsey was a participant in tough-man contests during his early 20th-century heyday, and fellow legends Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali took part in exhibitions, including Ali's 15-round event with Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki, dubbed the "The War of the Worlds," at the Budokan Arena in Tokyo in 1976.

    Mayweather returned again to fight Paul's older brother, Logan, in an exhibition last June, and modern champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. got together for an eight-round match that reached seven figures on pay-per-view in late 2020. Most recently, a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield was stopped in one round by ex-MMA champion Vitor Belfort on a show featuring former president Donald Trump doing commentary.

    "[It's a] sign of the time and a compliment to the appeal of MMA," former HBO boxing voice Jim Lampley told Bleacher Report. "Heavyweight power creates an opportunity McGregor didn't have versus Mayweather."

Pro: Francis Ngannou Gets the Spotlight

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    It's no secret that Ngannou and UFC President Dana White are having a beef.

    Ngannou has gone public with support of Paul, White's highest-profile nemesis at the moment, on issues such as fighter pay in the company, and the champion has had his own issues with White because of a reticence to let the fighter explore options—like a Fury fight, for example—outside the UFC's octagon.

    A duel with Fury would presumably introduce Ngannou to a crowd far beyond the scope of anything he's already performed in front of. The 94,000 fans in attendance at Wembley Stadium were an all-time record for a boxing show in Europe and the second-most anywhere in the sport's modern history.

    And it'd presumably line him up for a career-best paycheck, too.

    The UFC 270 event he headlined with top contender Ciryl Gane in January drew a reported 300,000 pay-per-view buys, and Ngannou was paid a base salary of $600,000, plus applicable bonuses. Fury, meanwhile, raked in nearly $30 million for the KO of Whyte, who made just better than $7.4 million himself.

    Ngannou has been one of the UFC's stalwarts for several years after arriving in 2015 following six fights with smaller promotions. He won his first six fights with the company before losing to Stipe Miocic in a title bid at UFC 220 in January 2018, then returned to stop Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, each in one round, in Fight Night main events over the subsequent 18 months.

    He secured a rematch with Miocic at UFC 260 in March 2021 and stopped him in two rounds, then went the distance to defeat Gane three months ago in his first title defense.

    "I would rather not see these ridiculous money grab fights," Randy Gordon, former chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission and current host of At The Fights on SiriusXM Radio, told Bleacher Report. "But the public, in overwhelming numbers, seems to want them."

Con: Francis Ngannou Is Not a Boxer

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    Ngannou, by any estimation, is a physical wonder.

    He's 6'4", weighs something in the vicinity of 260 pounds and carries that weight on a muscular frame that compares with the buffest of the buff from Hollywood to the WWE. And he's got the sort of terrifying power that's yielded a dozen KOs across 17 career wins, with exactly none of the 12 going past two rounds.

    So if you're having a pose-down or a hardest punch contest, he's not a bad bet.

    But he's not a boxer. 

    And not only does him getting an opportunity with Fury take up a spot that'd be the envy of anyone who's spent a lifetime honing their craft in a ring, it probably doesn't look all that competitive either.

    As big as Ngannou is, he'd still be five inches shorter and at least a few pounds lighter than Fury, who slapped a 6'4", 253-pound Whyte around with relative ease Saturday before knocking him silly with a single right uppercut.

    The UFC kingpin has been a man among boys when it comes to unloading power on foes not particularly adept at the sweet science, but he was clearly outworked for two rounds against Gane—who spent four years as a professional Muay Thai fighter—before taking the fight to the ground with four takedowns in the final three rounds that helped him secure a narrow decision.

    Gane isn't close to a mirror image of Fury, but he is the most agile and most accomplished stand-up fighter Ngannou has faced, and he gave him more trouble than anyone has in the last three years. Which means, unless Fury was willing to ham things up for the sake of a spectacle, it'd get really ugly really quickly.