All-heavyweight undercard to support Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou
The Fury-Ngannou full undercard will be available to watch on TNT Sports Box Office in the UK
Unbeaten British heavyweight standouts Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye will meet in a high-stakes 12-round battle as chief support to the historic showdown between WBC and Lineal heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson Fury and Lineal MMA heavyweight world champion Francis Ngannou on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The premier combat sports event of the year, which marks the opening of Riyadh Season features an all-heavyweight line-up, as former WBO world champion Joseph Parker (32-3, 22 KOs), from Auckland, New Zealand, goes up against Canada’s Simon Kean (23-1, 22 KOs), and bone-crunching puncher puncher Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0, 16 KOs), also residing in Canada, defends his NABF title against Croatian veteran Agron Smakici (19-2, 17 KOs). And, in a special six-round special attraction, 18-year-old heavyweight phenomenon Moses Itauma (5-0, 3 KOs) will face an opponent to be named.
Wardley vs Adeleye
Ipswich’s Wardley (16-0, 15 KOs) became English champion in 2021 with a first-round stoppage of Nick Webb before capturing British honors with a third-round TKO of Nathan Gorman last November. He is coming off a fourth-round TKO over Michael Coffie in April.
Adeleye (12-0, 11 KOs), from London, is the current WBO European champion, having won his maiden professional title by defeating the previously unbeaten Dmytro Bezus at York Hall in February and subsequently stopping Emir Ahmatovic in June.
The Adeleye-Wardley rivalry hit new heights at the Fury-Ngannou press conference in London earlier this month, as the fighters and their camps brawled on the red carpet. The melee left Wardley with cuts above his left eye and under his chin.
“I’ve got a clean bill of health,” Wardley said. “Nothing has changed. I am still feeling strong, moving hard, and hitting new numbers.
“I don’t know how to quantify how my desire to win by knockout has increased after what happened but, yes, substantially. Massively, because I am a professional person and I like to act like a professional, but if you want to go early, then that’s fine, and I am ready to go at any minute.
“When those situations occur, all it does is fuel the fire more. All you have done is made it worse for yourself. You’ve made me train harder, you’ve made me work for it more, you’ve made me want it more.”
Adeleye said, “I’m really looking forward to competing on the global stage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Everywhere I go, people are talking about this fight. I intend to put on a show and display why I'm the best young heavyweight out there.”
Parker vs Kean
Parker captured the WBO crown in 2016 with a points triumph over future champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in Auckland. He made two title defenses before an unsuccessful unification fight against Anthony Joshua in 2018. He won the WBO Intercontinental championship in May 2021 with a decision victory over Derek Chisora, making a successful defense against the Chisora seven months later.
Parker lost a bid for the WBO Interim world title against Joe Joyce last September, but he has enjoyed a successful 2023 with wins over Jack Massey and Faiga Opelu. Kean won the WBC International Silver championship in 2019 with a defeat of former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich, making a successful defense against Daniel Martz the following year. He has won eight straight via the short route, most recently notching a seventh-round stoppage over Eric Molina in March.
Parker said, “I’m looking forward to being back in Saudi Arabia. It was great the last time I was there to support another fighter and boxing event. This time I’m going to take care of business in my own fight against a tough challenge in Simon Kean. It is fantastic to be on this card and to be part of this major event. My preparations are on point, there is not long to go now.”
Kean said, “This is the moment all fighters dream of their whole career. This is what I’ve been working for and asking for. It’s time to deliver.”
Makhmudov vs Smakici
Makhmudov won the WBC Continental Americas strap in 2019, becoming the first man to stop Jonnie Rice. He went on to win the NABF and NABO belts with a slew of wins over notable opponents, including Pavel Sour, Erkan Teper and Mariusz Wach. Makhmudov had a triumphant United States debut in July, obliterating Raphael Akpejiori in two rounds. Smakici challenged for the vacant European title in his last fight, but he suffered a loss to the undefeated Agit Kabayel. The Croatian’s only other setback came against then-unbeaten Zhan Kossobutskiy in 2019.
Makhmudov said, “Saudi Arabia is a very special place for me. It's always been my goal to fight there, so I'm grateful to have this opportunity. I'm looking forward to putting on a great show.”
Moses Itauma vs TBA
18-year-old southpaw sensation, Moses Itauma (5-0, 3KO) made his professional debut on January 28 at the OVO Arena, Wembley on the undercard of the World light-heavyweight unified title battle between Artur Beterbiev and Anthony Yarde at Wembley. The Kent puncher took just 23 seconds to blast out Marcel Bode to announce his arrival.
The Chatham-based heavy won gold at the Schools, Juniors and Youth Europeans and his World gold came recently in November 2022 over in Spain. He is a two-time National champion, a Multi-Nation BoxCup winner and unbeaten in 24 fights as an amateur, with only one of them being a split-decision verdict at the age of 11.
The top prospect is tipped by many to become a world champion very soon, a goal he wants to be fasttracked towards, “For me now it is about stepping up quickly, really. I never really took up boxing to win world titles, I literally just kept going to the gym because we were like a little family at St Mary’s ABC. It was just good fun and then I started winning National titles.
“About two years ago I felt the amateur game wasn’t really for me and I started to grow out of it. I don’t think I’m special but I realised I was good at boxing probably when I started sparring Lawrence Okolie when I was 14-15 years old and was holding my own.
“I was then sparring Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua and was still holding my own, if not getting the better of it. When I was sparring Joyce and Okolie I was coming in wearing my school uniform having come straight from school and was yawning.
“I remember sparring Joe Joyce and I yawned when I got in the ring. His coach wasn’t impressed but I had run straight from school.”
Now having shed the school blazer, Itauma has set himself the target of becoming the youngest ever world heavyweight champion. To do this he needs to emulate the 20 years and four months record set by Mike Tyson.
“It has been on my mind probably from the beginning of last year and Frank says it is do-able,” explained Itauma.
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