Francis Ngannou NEARLY shocks the combat sports world in Riyadh

10/28/23. 8:20pm EST:

It was far from what we have ever seen in a Mixed Martial Arts/Boxing “crossover” event .  This was not Mayweather vs. McGregor in 2017. This wasn’t even Paul vs. Woodley I and II in 2021. This was Francis Ngannou showing the world that no fight or fighter should ever be overlooked. The man who left UFC in 2022 as that promotion’s reigning Heavyweight Champion of the World to become the Professional Fighters League’s newest star, walked into Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the universally recognized underdog, and walked out shocking the combat sports world by standing toe to toe for 10 rounds with whom many consider the best Heavyweight boxer in the world today, Tyson Fury. 


With the legendary ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson in his corner, Francis Ngannou nearly changed the trajectory of heavyweight boxing as the seemingly signed, sealed and delivered rumored Fury vs. Usyk Undisputed Heavyweight Championship fight potentially taking place December 23rd, giving boxing fans an early Christmas gift was almost derailed by the MMA star turned boxer three days before Halloween.  A motivated Ngannou came out of the starting blocks quickly with a strong jab and didn’t allow the bigger Fury to overpower him.  Though the ‘Gypsy king’ was the superior pugilist from a technique standpoint, it was clear that the desire to be taken seriously as a boxer ruled the day for the star from Cameroon. As is normally the case, in a crossover fight, most viewers would expect the boxer to begin to separate themselves from the MMA athlete, which is normally the case, BUT NOT TONIGHT. With focus and determination, Ngannou continued to put up strong showing, and in the 3rd round, nearly turned the boxing world upside down with a stunning knockdown of the WBC & Lineal Heavyweight World Champion. 


After the sensational round 3 knockdown by Francis (the only knockdown of the fight), he continued to go punch for punch with the champion, and with the entire boxing world watching in a state of near-disbelief, took Fury to the scorecards, where it was honestly as toss up of whom would walk out victorious.  No, the World title was not on the line, but make no mistake about it… THIS WAS NO EXHIBITION, and it wasn’t until boxing’s greatest voice Michael Buffer announced the scorecard results “95-94 Ngannou, 95-94 Fury, 95-94…. Fury” that any of the viewing public knew what the result of this fight would be. So many questions, however still remain.  Where will Francis Ngannou go from here after his strong performance? What does this mean for December 23rd? Will Fury vs. Usyk for the Undisputed title go forth, or will the near-loss by the WBC champ throw a figurative wrench in those plans?  All this remains to be seen, but there are two facts that are for certain: 1) This fight could have gone either way, and it was truly a boxing match that lived up to the hype and surrounding spectacle that took place at what has quickly become one of combat sports’ go-to locations, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the Kingdom Arena.  2) Anything can happen in combat sports, and on October 28th, 2023 IT ALMOST DID!  


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