Very few people gave Francis Ngannou any chance of beating Tyson Fury, but the MMA star nearly shocked the world.
The former UFC champion, who was making his professional boxing debut in Saudi Arabia, surprised everyone with his technical skills and stamina. He knocked Fury down in the third round with a counter left hook, and many deemed him unlucky to have lost the fight by split decision.
It would have been the biggest upset in the history of the sport and had the potential to scupper the signed undisputed clash between the WBC champion and Oleksandr Usyk.
The Ukrainian was ringside in Riyadh to build the fight and, in an interview with Fight Hype immediately after the decision, he admitted his surprise at what he had just witnessed.
“He’s a world champion in MMA with a hard punch, but doesn’t mean I’m not surprised. Maybe Tyson Fury did not take him serious, ‘ah it’s an MMA fighter, blah, blah, blah’, I don’t know.
Of course the knock down was a surprise. When he got knocked down I went ‘wow, wow, wow, Francis be careful please’. I say ‘Tyson ‘jab, jab, move, jab’.”
Fury and Usyk were planned to face each other on December 23 but with ‘The Gypsy King’ suffering a small cut and some swelling around his left eye, it’s hard to imagine that fight happening in just 8 weeks time.
The unified champion, who beat Anthony Joshua twice, will undoubtedly have taken confidence in Fury’s lacklustre performance and will no longer go into the fight as the underdog in the eyes of some.