Countless reporters and videographers have asked Tyson Fury in recent months if he expects Francis Ngannou to hit harder than Deontay Wilder.
It is an obvious question because Ngannou’s vaunted power is the apparent selling point of this exhibition between boxing’s best heavyweight and a comparative novice. Fury feels the vast majority of the public has it twisted, though, because he believes he, not Wilder, has proven himself as the hardest puncher in the heavyweight division.
England’s Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their rematch in February 2020, but he ended their third bout in much more emphatic fashion. The big Brit blasted Wilder with a right hand in the 11th round of their fan-friendly slugfest that knocked a battered, exhausted Wilder to his side, unable to continue in October 2021 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) floored Fury twice apiece in their first and third fights, but the former WBC champion commonly considered the most pulverizing puncher of this era couldn’t finish Fury in either fight. The undefeated Fury therefore took issue with Wilder’s reputation as their division’s hardest puncher during a recent joint interview he and Ngannou did with Carl Frampton for TNT Sports Boxing.
“I’m an aggressive knockout puncher now, for sure,” Fury said during a segment that was posted to TNT Sports’ boxing YouTube channel Friday. “People say that Deontay Wilder was the biggest puncher in heavyweight boxing, but I beat him. I knocked him out. So, I take that crown. I’m the biggest puncher in heavyweight boxing – me.”
The 35-year-old Fury also assured Ngannou that he will come to fight Saturday night, not to box and move his way to a decision win in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Straight out,” Fury said, “me and you in the middle. … Listen, we’ll have a fight. Don’t worry about that. That’s what we’re getting paid to do anyway, have a fight.”
Cameroon’s Ngannou isn’t sure whether to believe Fury, who will fight for the first time since he stopped England’s Dereck Chisora (34-13, 23 KOs) in the 10th round last December 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“I’m gonna find out that day,” Ngannou said. “I don’t believe anything that you do now. I know you’re a big character.”
Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) reminded Frampton and Ngannou that he promised prior to his rematch with Wilder that he would walk Wilder down and knock him out. That was exactly what Fury did 14 months after withstanding two knockdowns and fighting Wilder to a 12-round split draw in their first fight in December 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I told Deontay Wilder that I was gonna knock him out. Didn’t I?,” Fury said. “In the second fight I said I’m not gonna box, I’m gonna come straight at him. [Frampton] didn’t believe me. Nobody did. I told him I’m gonna knock him out on the front foot, gonna push him back and knock him out, and I did.”
Fury, who FanDuel lists as a 13-1 favorite, and Ngannou will headline a five-fight show ESPN Pay-Per-View will offer in the United States ($79.99; 2 p.m. EDT; 11 a.m. PDT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.