Those of you who have read a recent article of mine for Lace ‘Em Up about boxing legitimacy. It’s tough to get a real bead on it and that’s because there are so many different types of Boxing exhibition matches; there are non-boxers v non-boxers, like YouTubers v Influencers, sort-of boxers v sort-boxers, people who aspire to Boxing legitimacy like Jake Paul fighting boxers who are stepping into the exhibition and there are ex-professional boxers like Floyd Mayweather v well, it seems to be a bevvy of influencers and MMA fighters.
And now there’s another. Boxing champion v MMA’er. Tyson Fury is WBC Heavyweight Boxing champ and for him to enter the Exhibition world is a big move.
It legitimises the Exhibition fight world. At least it would, if it had gone the way most expected.
Ngannou? Not a chance
Great MMA fighter, but he had never been seen boxing. Striking, yes, but never Boxing. And when I heard a YouTube comment from someone close to Fury saying something to the effect that we’d never seen Ngannou box, so he could be good, in my TikTok video about this, I used the example of going to someone to ask for an ornate chair, who says ‘I’ve never done carpentry before, so this should be great’.
I was wrong. Very wrong. And said so publicly on TikTok. And this is another reason why Boxing suffered.
Ngannou Bests The Champ
In a post-fight interview, it was suggested that non-engagement was a tactic. With the belt v belts Usyk fight signed for late December, don’t want to do something silly like get cut.
It was a calculated risk, which relied on Ngannou not being a very good or experienced boxer and non engagement or containment with superior skills would winning the day for Fury.
Ngannou didn’t get the memo. He came out to prove a point and had good movement and a knack of claiming centre ring, keeping Fury away.
Lots think the Ngannou performance was revelatory and in a way it was, one of the best Boxing debuts I’ve seen, but he didn’t land an enormous amount, it was just that Fury was awful.
He was. He threw little, feinted as he usually does, which Ngannou didn’t buy and looked like he didn’t quite know what to do when faced with trouble. Ngannou showed a good chin too, Fury did land some punches, but generally he dominated this battle. As the BBC said;
‘It seemed the scorecards were against Fury and he appeared desperate when lunging forward in the seventh, missing Ngannou and falling to his knees – deemed a slip rather than a knockdown….’
And this is bad for Boxing. Fury is a champ. He’s at the top of the tree. And he’s just been bested by someone no one has ever seen box before.
So Ngannou Won, Right?
Another bad night for Boxing. Clearly this was an Ngannou win. But Fury was given the decision, by 3 rounds on one scorecard. People have reacted badly, implying Fury was protected because the Usyk fight has to go ahead. And that made an already extraordinary night even worse.
Some have called it the death of Boxing and although that’s clearly overstating, a bell is tolling…
Credit; Sky Sports
That Third Round
Fury puffed out his cheeks in mock disbelief, as if playing for the camera. He was on the canvas at the time. Yes, the champ was put down by an untried boxer an MMA’er, a left hook caught him high on the temple and that was it.
He got up, but the damage had been done. It was a cuffing blow, not a really tough shot, but Fury was down. That was extraordinary, but it also asks questions of the champ and some may be thinking well, if the champ is so easy to knock down, why is be regarded so highly by Boxing fans?
It made Boxing less.
Will that December fight take place? Probably. But maybe not. Fury has to regroup and 6 weeks or so is not really long enough. Physically or emotionally. And for a man with a big, barnstorming ego, to see him so quiet and uncommunicative the day was unusual.
He’s perhaps not ready for such a high profile, high stakes fight, after all, Boxing is based on a belief of success and Fury was brought low in a very public forum. The Independent had it right;
‘Tyson Fury embarrassed by Francis Ngannou and the punch that changed heavyweight boxing’
By onlookers. By fans. By the circus. Disappointing? Yes. But fans are used to it by now…