Tyson Fury has recently announced a fight with MMA star, Francis Ngannou – something that his own promoter, Bob Arum, seemingly would’ve been against not so long ago.
The reception has been largely negative, focused around the idea that the current heavyweight champion can step away from his status to earn millions fighting an unranked debutant.
So the Ngannou bout goes on, and there’s a massive promotional push behind it – but would it always have been this way? Not according to past opinions from Arum, who represents Fury in the US.
In an 2016 interview with FightHype, the veteran promoter criticised crossover bouts – in this example, Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor – and even questioned the idea that they should be sanctioned.
“I ask you a question. Would you put any money into a card that matches an extremely good professional boxer, if not the best in Mayweather, fighting against a guy who’s never had one professional boxing match? It’s lunacy. It’s ridiculous. Even the commission allowing it is ridiculous.
If they fought in MMA with the wrestling and the kicking and so forth, Floyd wouldn’t have a chance against McGregor. As a boxing match, McGregor has no chance against Mayweather. Are you crazy? Here’s a guy who is an experienced professional fighter fighting a guy who’s had not one professional boxing match.
McGregor couldn’t beat anybody in my gym. He’d go into the gym, pick any of those fighters – he couldn’t beat one of them. So how does he come to fight Floyd Mayweather? I mean it’s a farce. What shouldn’t happen is to denigrate the sport of boxing to a point where it becomes farce, and a Mayweather-McGregor fight is farce.”
Mayweather and McGregor fought in 2017, perhaps changing the sport forever by giving the businessmen a chance to see the financial success such a sideshow event could bring. It was largely uncompetitive, and ended in a tenth round stoppage for the boxer.
It was Mayweather’s fiftieth and final professional fight, and McGregor’s sole boxing outing to date. In terms of Fury-Ngannou, the Brit’s other promoter, Frank Warren, recently told TalkSPORT he wasn’t sure whether or not the bout would count on his man’s record.
In a separate interview when asked about McGregor facing Manny Pacquiao, Arum said that sort of bout ‘shouldn’t be allowed.’ He was reminded that Muhammad Ali faced pro wrestler, Antonio Inoki, in 1976. Arum said: ‘that wasn’t real, believe me, I promoted it.’
The sport has clearly moved on, with Arum’s Top Rank announcing the fight as a chance for fans to find out ‘who is the baddest man on the planet.’
Fury’s UK promoter, Frank Warren, was never dismissive of Mayweather-McGregor, calling it a fun event with intrigue and entertainment.
Fury-Ngannou takes place on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.