Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou? Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is not

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Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Conor McGregor pose for photographers during a news conference Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017, in Las Vegas.  The two are expected to fight in a boxing match on Saturday in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/John Locher)

Floyd Mayweather Jr., left, and Conor McGregor had been selling a lot of pay-per-views before they fought each other, which made their fight make business sense. (AP Photo/John Locher)

As a sporting event, it was a bad idea to have Floyd Mayweather Jr and Conor McGregor fight each other. McGregor, who had never been in 2017 before, had little chance against an Olympic bronze medalist who had gone 49-for-49 as a proboxer. As a business idea, however, it was a genius move.

With Mayweather and McGregor both as the A-side of the pay-per-view, it was a slam dunk that it would do big business. And it did: On August 26, 2017, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, it sold 4.3 million pay-per-views, the second best of all time, and generated over $600 million in the total income.

In his five fights before the McGregor fight, Mayweather sold (in reverse order) 400,000 against Andre Berto; a record 4.6 million against Manny Pacquiao, 925,000 for the rematch with Marcos Maidana; 900,000 for the first fight with Maidana and 2.2 million for his bout with Canelo Alvarez. In his five fights before facing McGregor, Mayweather averaged 1.81 million sales per fight.

McGregor had emerged as the UFC’s biggest draw and had the numbers to back it up. Before Mayweather, he sold 1.3 million for a bout against Eddie Alvarez; 1.65 million for his rematch with Nate Diaz; 1.32 million for his debut with Diaz; 1.2 million for a bout against Jose Aldo; and 825,000 for a fight with Chad Mendes. McGregor averaged 1.26 million in those five fights.

Social media was flooded with posts about a possible Mayweather-McGregor fight and UFC president Dana White was asked about its possibility at almost every public appearance he made.

That brings us to the talk – mainly by former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou himself – about the possibility of a pay-per-view bout between WBC heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury and Ngannou. Ngannou fought his contract, was unable to come to terms with the UFC on a new deal and the sides parted ways on January 14, leaving Ngannou free to sign wherever he chooses.

He entered the ring on April 23 in London after Fury stopped Dillian Whyte in a title bout. It was clear that he was trying to build interest in a fight with Fury and Fury, who is no one’s fool, happily. He sees an opportunity for easy money and he is not going to walk away from it easily.

From a sporting point of view, the Fury-Ngannou bout makes as little sense as the Mayweather-McGregor bout. MMA and boxing are different sports. Fury is one of the best heavyweights in boxing history and would handle Ngannou relatively easily. Scoff, if you will, at that picture of the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Fury, but how many fighters from years past are considered great, like the 5-foot-10 Rocky Marciano , 190-pounder, would have been able to beat Fury?

Online sportsbooks that have a line on Fury-Ngannou have Fury as a 6-1 favorite, or better.

That, however, is not surprising. Anyone who has watched these boxing vs. MMA matches over the past five years knows how it goes. And, of course, if McGregor had fought Mayweather in MMA instead of boxing, Mayweather would have been lucky to come out of the fight without a tooth in the side of his head after his quick stoppage.

But unlike Mayweather-McGregor, Fury-Ngannou has little business sense. I’d love to be wrong, but there is no one who will pay Ngannou $30 million or more to box Fury with so much uncertainty. Ngannou has headlined three UFC pay-per-view cards. The UFC does not release their PPV numbers, but it is not believed that any of them did more than 400,000.

Due to his association with Irish mob leader Daniel Kinahan, Fury cannot enter the US, so a theoretical Fury-Ngannou bout would have to take place in London or the Middle East. They would sell a lot of tickets in London, and a group in the Middle East could put up a big bet.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 22: Francis Ngannou of Cameroon celebrates after defeating Ciryl Gane of France in their UFC heavyweight championship fight at the UFC 270 event at the Honda Center on January 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is a free agent, but his path is fraught with danger. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

It would be mid-afternoon in the US if it were in London and morning if it was held in, say, Saudi Arabia. That would kill hopes for big pay-per-view sales in the US, where most of the fight’s PPV revenue will come from. History tells us that.

Fury is currently negotiating to fight a legacy build against unified champion Oleksandr Usyk, so the Ngannou bout would have to come after that. Ngannou has not fought since UFC 270 on January 22, 2022, which would push Fury’s fight back to later this year. That would mean that Ngannou would have almost two years between fights.

For many reasons, that doesn’t make sense. His best option would clearly be to stay in MMA. Dave Feldman, the president of Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship, likes to get cheap heat by claiming he talks to every big name MMA agent, but there’s no way Ngannou will do that and even less chance of Feldman being able to. meet his asking price. And if he did it out of panic, he has zero fighters that make sense as a potential Nganou opponent.

The PFL and Bellator make the most sense, with ONE and Rizin also in the mix. The problem for Ngannou is that there are no strong opponents for him to fight in any of these groups. The UFC’s heavyweight division is at an all-time high in terms of talent right now, with guys like Jon Jones, Cyril Gane, Sergei Pavlovich, Tom Aspinall, Curtis Blaydes and many more, in the hunt.

The PFL makes a lot of sense for Ngannou because he is on ESPN and he would get a good push to fight in the PFL. The PFL will likely give him a lot, but can he capitalize on a Ngannou PPV against Ante Delija, who won their heavyweight championship in 2022? Delija is a strong fighter, but he is virtually unknown outside of the sport’s most die-hard fans. Big pay-per-view numbers aren’t achieved by selling to the die-hard fans but to the casual fans who have a reason to tune in.

The same is true with Bellator. His champion is Ryan Bader, who on Friday on CBS will defend his belt against Fedor Emelianenko in what is known as Emelianenko’s last fight. If that’s true, Bader, Valentin Moldavsky, Linton Vassell and Cheick Kongo are Bellator’s top four heavyweights besides Emelianenko at this point. How many PPVs would either of them sell against Ngannou?

The risk Bellator or PFL would face in signing Ngannou is that they would stand to lose a lot of money because they don’t have anyone to oppose him that would generate the business to make sense.

That’s why Ngannou has made an effort to launch the Fury fight.

Ngannou is a great fighter, but he is 36 and suffering from a serious knee injury. he is yet he is not ready to fight yet.

It is cheap, but its options are not good. There are risks associated with every path he chooses.

All of this would change if he doesn’t seem to land a haymaker and stop Fury. But what are the odds of someone with no pro-boxing experience knocking out one of the greatest heavyweights while said heavyweight is still at the top?

Francis Ngannou now has the freedom to do as he pleases. The options, however, may not be what he once envisioned.

WBC heavyweight champion boxer Tyson Fury poses for the cameras with his championship belt and wearing an England football shirt after the official weigh-in, in London, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Tyson Fury fights Derek Chisora ​​on December 3, at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to defend his WBC heavyweight championship.  (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury is ready to box former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, but he is first negotiating an undisputed heavyweight title bout with Oleksandr Usyk. (AP Photo/Ian Walton)

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