Tyson Fury was taken the distance by Francis Ngannou this weekend in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a successful boxing debut for the latter despite ultimately losing a split decision.
The MMA star was given little to no chance but the boxing fraternity, and flipped that script by sensationally dropping Fury with a left hook in the third round.
He continued to compete well throughout the ten rounds against a lacklustre Fury, winning the fight on one judge’s scorecard but losing on the other two.
Regardless, it was without a doubt a moral victory for the former UFC Champion, and a blow for Fury. His longtime friend and training partner, Billy Joe Saunders, knows the performance wasn’t up to scratch.
The two-weight world champion, who is currently plotting a comeback, took to social media to say that ‘The Gypsy King’ had ‘too many yes men’ in his team.
“Too many yes men in camp, not switched on from the word go. But he [will] be switched on for the Ukrainian.”
Who he’s referring to within Fury’s wider team isn’t clear.
The general consensus is that Fury did look off, having previously said that he trained for a full 12 weeks and dedicated more time in the gym to Ngannou than he has for the likes of Deontay Wilder, Dillian Whyte and Derek Chisora.
The Ukrainian Saunders speaks of is Oleksandr Usyk, who was ringside and came face-to-face with Fury post-fight. As the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion, he has signed to face the Brit – who holds the WBC belt – in an undisputed fight.
It’s a historic contest and one fans have been waiting for for some time, but the reported date of December 23 is now off the table, as confirmed by promoter Frank Warren.