Francis Ngannou stunned the boxing world by knocking Tyson Fury down in the third of their ten-round fight.
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion heard the final bell and lost on a split decision – one which he called a robbery.
So surprising was the performance that the WBC, who sanctioned the bout but did not allow for Fury’s title to be on the line, promptly ranked the debutant as their tenth best heavyweight in the world.
Speaking to Sky Sports, President Mauricio Sulaiman said the move was supported by the rules.
“First of all it is based on the rules. The WBC rules for the ratings criteria has many parameters; record, activity, level of opposition and other matters including activity in amateur boxing, Olympic boxing or any other contact sport. We have ranked many fighters from Thailand who have had a successful Muay Thai or Thai boxing career and they enter into professional boxing.”
Sulaiman then went on to say that those who question the decision are looking to create controversy.
“For Ngannou to enter the rankings, it’s supported by the rules. But who can, in their state of mind, go against Ngannou being ranked? He dropped Tyson, the best heavyweight champion of today in boxing and he lost a split decision against the champion.”
“So who can go against that? It is only to make controversy. So if they see that it is within the rules and they see the performance he had, there is no controversy putting him No 10 in the rankings. It was amazing. He has a big chin, a huge chin, tremendous punching power and he was very clean. He boxed. There was a concern that he would get to the tactics of mixed martial arts. No, he did a tremendous fight.”
“He’s humble and he’s hardworking. I’m very proud of the decision by the WBC.”
The backlash from fans and fellow fighters has been focused on the efforts of other contenders to crack the top ten, some of whom undoubtedly feel they have been denied a spot by a man who has had one fight, one loss.
Ngannou currently doesn’t have any solid plans to return to the boxing ring, although has made it clear that he wants the Fury rematch. If he gets it – which is admittedly unlikely any time soon – as things stand it would be for the WBC belt this time.