Francis Ngannou claimed that Tyson Fury is looking for every advantage imaginable in their high-profile exhibition October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion already owns a five-inch height and a two-inch reach advantage over Ngannou. Fury’s extreme experience edge in boxing figures to work against Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champ, as well.
According to Ngannou, England’s Fury has also demanded that they fight in a ring that spans 24 feet inside the ropes, which would give the athletic Fury extra room to operate against a hard-hitting opponent whose only chance to win would seem to be by knockout.
Cameroon’s Ngannou revealed Fury’s supposed demand for a huge ring during a joint interview with former two-division champion Carl Frampton.
“I prepared to make him move less,” Ngannou said during a segment that premiered Friday on TNT Sports Boxing’s YouTube channel. “And I know that he asked for the biggest size of the ring possible.”
A defiant Fury interjected.
“I didn’t ask for any ring,” Fury replied. “I’ll fight you in a phone box, no problem.”
Ngannou questioned Fury again.
“OK,” Ngannou said. “So, you didn’t ask for a 24-feet ring?”
Fury reiterated that he didn’t demand a ring that would span four additional feet inside the ropes than the sport’s standard.
“I didn’t ask for any size ring,” Fury said. “I’ve not even spoke to the guys. I don’t get involved in the business. But the championship ring is only 20 feet. So, if they’ve asked for a 24-foot, let’s do it in a 20-foot. Easy.”
Ngannou repeated his claim.
“They asked for 24,” Ngannou said.
However big the ring is when they fight, Ngannou figures to have a tough time catching Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) with flush punches. With contracts already signed for a heavyweight title unification fight against Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk, Ngannou undoubtedly will face a fully focused Fury in this 10-round exhibition.
The 6-foot-9 Fury, who will end a 10½-month layoff, is listed by FanDuel sportsbook as a 13-1 favorite over the 6-foot-4 Ngannou, who is 17-3 as a mixed martial artist, including 12 knockouts. The 35-year-old Manchester native will fight for the first time since he stopped England’s Dereck Chisora (34-13, 23 KOs) in the 10th round of their 12-round title fight last December 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
Fury-Ngannou will headline a five-fight pay-per-view show, which ESPN+ will offer in the United States for $79.99.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.