This past Saturday at Boxing’s Battle of the Baddest, we all were witnesses to something truly remarkable. Former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (17-3 MMA) made his professional boxing debut as he took on lineal heavyweight champion and one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, Tyson Fury (34-0-1).
The fight on Saturday was the culmination of a remarkable yet tough stretch for Ngannou. In March 2021, Francis Ngannou became the UFC heavyweight champion by knocking out Stipe Miocic. After knocking out Miocic, his ultimate goal was to face Jon Jones inside the octagon.
Jones wanted more time to prepare for heavyweight and as Ngannou was resting up, the promotion created an interim title that was won by Ciryl Gane a former training partner of Ngannou’s. In January 2022, Ngannou and Gane fought for the unified title. Ngannou had serious knee issues going into the fight and was not favored to retain his title.
However, he surprised everyone by leaning on his wrestling late in the fight and won. After that win, it was knee surgery and then recovery. Ngannou always wanted to go into the world of boxing, however, the UFC wasn’t interested in letting him do that. Ngannou and the promotion went back-and-forth for nearly a year before parting ways.
Earlier this year, Ngannou signed with the PFL. The PFL made it clear that they would allow Francis Ngannou to box if he wanted to. From there, Ngannou secured the fight nobody thought he’d secure. A matchup with boxing’s top heavyweight in a matchup dubbed The Battle of the Baddest.
MMA vs. Boxing
Of course, this was always going to be dubbed an MMA versus Boxing matchup. However, as the fight unfolded on Saturday, it looked just like two boxers inside the square circle. Ngannou surprised everyone and frustrated Fury throughout the affair. Ngannou even dropped Fury in the third round of their matchup to the shock of everyone.
Admittedly, I thought Ngannou would get tired and Fury would win going away in the later rounds. However, it was Ngannou, not Fury, who was winning the majority of the last few rounds on the scorecards. When the boxing match was over, I truly thought Francis Ngannou won. However, I didn’t think he’d get the decision win and neither did he.
Ngannou admitted that he knew there was no way he’d get a decision win no matter what because of the shady world of boxing judging. Frankly, I think we all knew there was no way he’d get a decision. However, one judge did give him the fight and it ultimately was a split decision win for Tyson Fury.
While Fury gets the win on his record, make no mistake about it, Francis Ngannou was the real winner. He secured a massive bag and got the fight nobody said he would. Not only that, he did better than anyone thought he would. Ngannou’s been doubted his whole life, but after Saturday night, maybe people will start taking him at his word.