Tyson Fury nearly got shocked in Riyadh, but did enough to beat Francis Ngannou by split decision over 10 rounds, having to come off the canvas along the way.
One judge scored the bout 95-94 for Ngannou, while the other two had it 95-94 and 96-93 for Fury. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 96-93 for Fury.
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO) was dropped on a left hand in the third round, but seemed to wake up and find a groove for several rounds after that, which wound up enough to secure the win, but in all reality, any “moral” winner here is Francis Ngannou, who put on a fantastic display against a shoddy Fury who did not appear to take the fight seriously.
Ngannou, who was making his pro debut, wasn’t reckless or foolish in his approach, and the bout was less about his brute force vs Fury’s boxing skills than it was a pretty typical-looking boxing match fought at some distance, with the danger that comes with heavyweights throwing punches.
Fury was not in his best shape — not talking cosmetically, he’s obviously no sculpted Adonis ever, but his cardio was wonky and in those early rounds, he just did not look like Tyson Fury.
He only ever looked like Tyson Fury for a stretch in the middle, after he got dropped, and then late he was tired, cautious, and it would have been hard to argue if two of the judges saw it Ngannou’s way, not his.
Fury vs Ngannou highlights
Undercard highlights and results
- Fabio Wardley TKO-7 David Adeleye: This was well-matched, basically, but also Wardley (17-0, 16 KO) was just better, round-by-round he kept looking like the better fighter, then he dropped Adeleye and the referee stepped in moments later. Adeleye (12-1, 11 KO) gave the referee a minor shove and a little tap toward the hip and the TV freaked out about this needing to be punished or whatever. Overall, I thought this was the best we’ve seen Wardley look yet, and it seems Chev Clarke will be lined up for him next. It seems.
- Joseph Parker KO-3 Simon Kean: Kean (23-2, 22 KO) is not a world-level heavyweight, so the good news for Parker (33-3, 23 KO) is that he treated the matchup that way. The former titlist boxed a little and felt it out for two rounds, but you could see him looking for the opening. He found out with a wicked uppercut for the true knockout in round three.
- Arslanbek Makhmudov TKO-1 Junior Anthony Wright: A hugely important fight in the career of the 34-year-old Makhmudov, who goes to 18-0 (17 KO) by washing an aged former cruiserweight in Wright (20-5-1, 18 KO). Stunning stuff. Thrilling and fabulous.
- Moses Itauma TKO-1 Istvan Bernath: Pretty much as expected. The 18-year-old Itauma goes to 6-0 (4 KO) by dropping and then shortly after stopping Hungary’s Bernath (10-2, 8 KO).
- Martin Bakole TKO-4 Carlos Takam: Bakole (20-1, 15 KO) was heavier than he’ll want to be for fights going forward, coming in just shy of 300 lbs, but he did the business here, just battering the veteran Takam (40-8-1, 28 KO) in the third and fourth rounds until the referee stepped in. Takam was still up and didn’t want the stoppage, but his corner was about to call it, too. At 42, Takam could hang it up, but it’s boxing, so he may not. Bakole just deserves a decent next fight and a busier schedule.