Mike Tyson’s Coach: How The Legend Is Really Helping Francis Ngannou Ahead Of Tyson Fury’s Boxing Match
Francis Ngannou and Mike Tyson are great couples: MMA’s “Baddest Man on the Planet” and the boxing legend who coined the phrase. It is consistent with the upcoming spectacle this weekend when Ngannou meets Tyson Fury in the boxing ring. Butpeople ask how practical Tyson Ngannou’s coach is.
The former heavyweight champion’s wealth of knowledge is unquestionable, but great fighters rarely make good coaches and the best coaches are often not the best fighters . Tyson and Ngannou’s partnership, like most relationships, is complicated. It is mainly advertising, something spiritual, and a technical touch.
Tethering Tyson to Ngannou is an important part of the build-up to Saturday’s boxing match in Riyadh. Combat sports journalist Kevin Iole recently reported that “Iron” Mike was paid “very handsomely” by Saudi Arabia to “be” Ngannou’s trainer.
Even Ngannou’s team has confirmed Tyson as a catalyst for the fight. That doesn’t mean Ngannou isn’t benefiting from the presence of the living legend. Ngannou has never lacked for motivation, but Xtreme Couture coach Eric Nicksick says Tyson’s presence has inspired new levels of enthusiasm from the former UFC heavyweight champ.
“It’s more of a promotion level but any time you put Mike in it’s good to have…” Nicksick told CBS Sports. “Usually in areas where I feel like Francis saying, “Hey, I’m fine. I’m good. I’m tired. I’m ready,” he would push through those workouts. I knew he didn’t want to do it. to Mike’s disappointment.
“Every time I felt like Francis had reached his breaking point, he’d look over at Mike Tyson and be like, ‘No, I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to get another one.’ . I have to get through.’ And I love that mentality. Mike really brings the best out of Francis every time he’s around.”
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Ngannou’s preparation for Fury is being handled primarily by Dewey Cooper. The skilled coach has 25 professional boxing bouts under his belt, including two fights against future IBF cruiserweight champion Arthur Williams. He is also a K-1 Grand Prix kickboxing finalist. Cooper contextualized why Tyson’s involvement is important and credited Tyson with his technical expertise.
“There are several nuances in the way punches are delivered and things of that nature. Mike Tyson has definitely added to that aspect and the psychological motivation,” the Team Combat League president told CBS Sports. “There’s something intangible that Mike brings that very few people can bring.
“Especially when the fighter that Mike trains with is such a huge and inspiring fan of Mike Tyson. If you know Francis Ngannou’s story, watching a Mike Tyson video back in Cameroon is what inspired him to want. Watching that video of Mike Tyson inspired him to make that journey and become the man he was meant to be in the world of fighting.”
Check out the full interview with Dewey Cooper below.
Ngannou echoed his coaches’ sentiments but gave Tyson even more credit for his wealth of experience.
“It’s so important and so exciting to have one of the biggest — if not the biggest — pressures ever to be a part of it and be in your corner and believe in you,” Ngannou told CBS Sports. “Just that one thing is everything. Then you have to talk about his approach, his fundamentals, his footwork and his skills. Everything you can learn from it.
“You can learn anything from Mike Tyson and it will make you better.”
Cooper has been actively involved in MMA and boxing for a long time. He has worked with former lightweight contender Kevin Lee, two-time Bellator champion Daniel Strauss and UFC flyweight Amir Albazi. Cooper is also the president of the Team Combat League, a team-based boxing organization in which groups made up of six weight classes compete in one-on-one bouts.
“You have fighters fight one round each and you move to the next weight class…” Cooper said. “It gives you a shorter, more explosive look [version of] today’s era [of boxing].
“The young fighters are getting a lot of experience. They’re getting a platform every week to perform and build fans and get that fight experience in. There’s nothing like to fight experience. We talked about Ngannou and Fury earlier. This is Ngannou’s first fight in boxing. Imagine him going through a Combat Team League season. In a four month season, he would have 20 fights to have a total of 14-20 rounds.”
The odds are heavily stacked against Ngannou making his boxing debut against the best heavyweight boxer today. The general expectation is that Ngannou’s best path, with a bump to victory, is through chaos and explosion. But Ngannou says he and his team are preparing for the long haul. Stamina has often failed UFC fighters transitioning to boxing, especially Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather. Ngannou and his hulking frame are determined to avoid those dangers.
“I’ve been focusing a lot on my heart and my endurance,” Ngannou said. “That’s why I believe if this fight goes away I still have a chance. That was my main goal, of course, because cardio carries everything. Cardio will help you carry your power through the fight.”
Check out the full interview with Francis Ngannou below.
Tyson is not the force behind Ngannou’s efforts to overcome an almost insurmountable challenge but his aura and intensity are impossible to resist. In the end, there is value in promoting your idol. Tyson has, on the surface, unwavering faith in the toughest argument MMA has ever produced.
“It’s no secret that I support Ngannou, 100%, in this fight of champions,” Tyson told Saudi media. “He has one hard punch and when he lands, it’s the game over.”