Tyson Fury blamed poor timing and ring rust, but paid his dues to worthy opponent Francis Ngannou
Tyson Fury was brutally honest in his first interview since his split decision victory over Francis Ngannou
On Sunday morning in Saudi Arabia, the WBC heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury, just edged past pro boxing debutant Francis Ngannou with a razor-thin close split-decision victory after a 10-round bout in Saudi Arabia.
Despite being knocked down in the third round, Fury took the result 96-93 and 95-94 on two of the judges' cards, with the one other judge seeing it 95-94 for UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou.
Known as 'The Predator, Ngannou was boxing as a pro for the first time, while Fury is an unbeaten WBC and lineal champion, widely regarded as the leading heavyweight in the sport right now.
When asked by Boxing King Media if he had underestimated his opponent, Fury, who was sporting a black eye, answered: “You can’t take anything away from Francis Ngannou
“He was a good fighter and he gave me a good fight and that was it. I trained very well, I prepared very well and I don’t have any excuses or anything.
“It’s boxing. Some days you have good days and some days you don’t, and you crack on and continue and keep moving forward.”
He continued: “Usually when you get the media saying, ‘It’s a mismatch and it’s not worth watching’, you’re in for a tough night.
“And if I didn’t train as hard as I did I wouldn’t have got through that fight.”
When asked how hard Ngannou punched compared to Fury’s previous opposition, the fighter explained: “He punches hard but it was a hook in the back of the head, the knockdown in round three.
“Apart from that he didn’t get me with much else.”
On his own performance, Fury said: “I felt my timing was quite off. I’d been out of the ring for nearly a year again. It was a little bit of ring rust. It was what it was.
“It was far from one of my best performances. It wasn’t a vintage Tyson Fury but listen you do what you’ve got to do in there to get through and on to the next one.”
He continued: “I don’t know about bad night because that’s taking something away from Francis Ngannou’s performance. He did very well and that’s it really.
“It’s boxing. You can be the best version of yourself every time.”
BBN Editor, Tim Rickson, shared his opinions on the fight, “In a nutshell, I think Tyson Fury won the fight, gave a poor performance in the process, and Francis Ngannou exceeded everybody's expectations.
“Boxing is a fickle sport with many ups and downs. Tyson's stock is very low right now, but he could come back in his next fight to become the undisputed heavyweight champion and then his reputation will be stratospheric again, like it was when he beat Deontay Wilder for the first time, and it will only have been the difference of just one fight.
“When I say boxing is fickle, I'm referring to the fans. The fact that Fury won the fight on paper – outlanding Ngannou by 71 punches to 59 – the main reason, I believe, that fans are calling the fight a robbery is because they are watching one boxer do well when they really didn't expect him to, so every punch that lands they are scoring it as double and forgetting to view the fight impartially. How can it be a robbery when the winner outlanded the loser? You are very welcome to call it a close fight, you are welcome to believe that Ngannou should have won, but you simply cannot use the word 'robbery'.
“On the same subject, boxing is the only sport in the world that you are not allowed to lose. A football team can lose five games in a season and still win the league to be crowned champions, but boxers are almost outlawed from doing so. Muhammad Ali lost five fights during his career, yet we still call him 'The Greatest', and deservedly so. Sugar Ray Robinson lost 18 fights but is placed at No.1 on everyone's greatest of all time lists, my list included. In recent times, perhaps it's down to the 'Mayweather Effect', but it's almost forbidden for any boxer to lose anymore, or they're written off by many. And now we're seeing that a boxer can't even have a bad night and they're 'finished'. Sometimes, you get in that ring and it all flows nicely and somtimes it just doesn't and takes longer to get going. It looked to be that Tyson just couldn't get going from the first round onwards. And let's not forget that boxing can be 'rock, paper, scissors. Some styles are effective against others and some are neutralised.
“In regards to Francis Ngannou, fans calling him a debutant doesn't tell the full story. Ngannou is world heavyweight champion in a combat sport and he started his journey as a boxer and is known for his punching prowess and potent power. So calling a UFC World champion who has KO'd many opponents with a single punch 'a debutant' doesn't really pain a true picture. That said, his transition from MMA to boxing could not have been an easy ride, even going from amateur boxing to pro boxing is tricky change to make, so to do what he did in Saudi is nothing short of incredible.
“Off the back of that brilliant performance, I would love to see him carve out a boxing career and get in the heavyweight mix with the likes of Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and whoever else is willing. No matter who he fights – possibly even Martin Bakole would be good to see – it is going to be huge event where both boxers will make big purses.
“For anyone who thinks Tyson Fury is finished, I personally think he has one more big performance left in him, where he has a full serious camp. I know he says he trained hard for this fight, but I'm not convinced he did. For the undisputed crown, I guarantee he would give his everything. I'm sure that someone his size can't fight for much longer, it has to be hard on his ankles, his legs, carrying such a big frame around in that ring, and his style appears to have changed quite a lot from fight to fight. If he fights Usyk next and wins, then he can retire with a lasting legacy in the sport. That's what I really hope will happen next. The Anthony Joshua fight? Yeah' it'd be nice wouldn't it, but I don't need anymore.”
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