Posted on 10/24/2023
By: Sean Crose
It might seem like something out of an old Monty Python skit, but a bald, towering, loud heavyweight boxing champion of the world – who frankly isn’t ever really looking in peak condition – is squaring off against a boxing novice this weekend in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This isn’t a skit however. It’s real life and it offers a unique look into the current state not only of professional boxing, but of combat sports entirely. For, on Saturday, WBC and lineal heavyweight champ Tyson Fury will be battling UFC great Francis Ngannou in a pay per view affair. While there’s no doubt Ngannou is a thunderously hard puncher, it’s hard to imagine him besting the man who arguably stopped the hardest puncher in history in Deontay Wilder not once but twice.
Not that it matters.
This unlikely ring pairing is expected to bring in a ton of eyeballs and cash (at least that’s what the people behind this enormous novelty act hope). It’s easy to cast off Fury as a kind of boxing villain in all this, someone who is expressly in it for the paydays and the easy work, but the reality is that Fry has signed to fight fellow titlist (and extremely experienced boxer) Oleksandr Usyk after the Ngannou fight. Make no mistake about it, Fury-Usyk is a major battle, one that presents a real challenge to Fury. Not that Ngannou poses no threat whatsoever – the man can fight, after all, and can hit like a sledge hammer. He’s not a boxer, though, and that lack of ring experience, as opposed to experience in the octagon, should (“should” being the operative word here) make all the difference.
Back to the easy money argument for a moment. Just because Fury has proved he’s willing to take on serious threats like Usyk doesn’t mean the man is above a cash grab, which this Saturday’s bout with Ngannou is likely to be. Is that wrong, though? Who would actually turn down the kind of money Fury is guaranteed to earn this Saturday in Saudi Arabia? If the man were ducking Usyk, as he was once accused of doing, then charges of going the easy route might stick. Now that the world has been informed that Fury-Usyk is a done deal, that argument no longer holds water. So yes, Fury is well within his rights to pick up some quick cash this weekend. So long as he doesn’t completely write off the Mike Tyson trained Ngannou, it should all end up being a case of no harm, no foul.
This novelty fight stuff is growing tiresome for serious boxing fans, however. How could it not?