Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou is not the first boxer vs.
The great Muhammad Ali once fought Antonio Inoki, a legendary professional wrestler who crawled like a crab around the ring and kicked at his feet. That fight on June 24, 1976, drew an estimated worldwide audience of 1 billion viewers.
To build the fight, Ali appeared on professional wrestling house shows, where he was once grabbed by 400-plus-pound wrestler Gorilla Monsoon and sent into a plane spin. He appeared on “The Tonight Show” with legendary pro wrestling heel manager, “Classy” Freddie Blassie.
After a “match” with WWWF wrestler Buddy Wolfe, Ali was interviewed in the ring by Vince McMahon. McMahon began the interview with Ali by saying, “You may be the king of the ring; then again, maybe not.
At that time, pro wrestling was still following kayfabe and acting as if it were real. Ali fell completely into the role. After making Wolfe bloody in their brief encounter, Ali told McMahon, “He got a little cocky. He grabbed my head and twisted my neck a little bit. He started bleeding like a pig, and that’s just what I ‘ going to do it. I’m not just a boxer; I’m going to whip all the rasslers in the world, starting with the world champion, Antonio Inoki, in Japan.”
Ali started talking about pulling dirty tricks on his opponents when he turned to Blassie. Blassie never missed a beat, saying, “I’m the guy who wrote the book on illegal tactics, how to get in and how to get out.”
In 1975, George Foreman once boxed five men in one night.
There’s more, but you get the point. No matter how low you can go, in boxing, you can be sure that someone has tried it before.
And that brings us to the boxing match between Tyson Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound great, and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. They will meet on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in another of the boxing vs. MMA matches being held.
It’s done for money, and at a press conference Thursday in London, both men noted the big payday they’re about to earn. They are going to try to use their fame in their own sports to cash in on their big names.
There should be no problem with that. Fighting is a dangerous profession and if an athlete is able to earn money, it’s great.
But the boxer versus MMA fighter trend is getting old; we know how this game goes. Floyd Mayweather proved it when he knocked Conor McGregor out of the box on August 26, 2017 in Las Vegas. Heck, Jake Paul, of all people, proved it when he defeated MMA fighters Nate Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren.
They are going to try again, however, and the hype was in overdrive on Thursday.
When Queensberry Promotions’ Dev Sahni brought Ngannou to the stage, he described him as “probably the most powerful athlete in the history of combat sports”. While Ngannou is indeed a ferocious, even terrifying puncher, referring to him as the most powerful person in the history of combat sports is more than a little over the top.
So, too, was Fury’s idea that he would knock Ngannou out in an MMA fight. Book it: Ngannou would beat Fury faster in an MMA bout than Fury could beat Ngannou in a boxing match.
Fury, however, hit on why the fight is happening when he not only talked about the money, but what the show would do for him to open it up to a new audience of fans. follow MMA not all as familiar as boxing fans. Yes.
“I’m going to go in there and enjoy it, because I’m in the twilight zone of my career,” Fury said. “I turned 35 last week. I want to enjoy and enjoy the last job I have left. You never know when it will be over. [and suffer] ACL or shoulder or a sore eye, whatever. You never know what’s around the corner, so you have to take advantage of it and enjoy every moment. That’s what I’m doing. I am a natural born entertainer.
“These guys don’t give me s***, these boxers. They’re like men in suits, like office workers and stuff. [They’re] hard, boring and everyone is sick of it. It’s a show, and I’m the only show in town.”
It’s a good point.
However, it is disappointing to many that Fury took this fight, which he is likely to win clearly, instead of fighting Oleksandr Usyk for supremacy in boxing’s heavyweight division.
But from Fury’s point of view, he knows he should win going away and that Usyk can follow after Ngannou.
For Ngannou, it’s a roll of the dice. He is being raised in front of an audience that does not know him. He has been called one of the greatest punchers of all time, even though he has never boxed and, notably, wears four-ounce gloves in MMA as opposed to the 10-ounce gloves that will be on when he launches Fury.
It was almost sacrilege for Sahni to refer to Ngannou as “possibly,” the greatest puncher of all time. Yeah, you could make the argument that Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez is the greatest puncher of all time (just ask Tim Anderson of the White Sox), but that’s a losing argument. Sahni even failed to mention the likes of Deontay Wilder, Mike Tyson, Foreman, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Earnie Shavers and many others.
It is all, of course, for the interest of raising the event and selling.
The event will sell better the more the fighters put it out there and the more they convince the public that Ngannou can win. That has yet to happen in any of these boxer vs. MMA fights.
Here’s hoping Ngannou comes out of the fight healthy and able to step into the Professional Fighters League energized and ready to do his thing in MMA.
Here’s hoping we learn our lesson after this and keep boxers competing against boxers and MMA fighters fighting each other.
Unfortunately, however, a sucker is born every minute.