By Dane McGuire
The biggest MMA-boxing crossover bout since Mayweather versus McGregor is a done deal. Announced July 11, former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou will box fellow heavyweight great Tyson Fury October 28 in Saudi Arabia.
The bout was confirmed by multiple outlets in MMA and boxing and sports media leader ESPN. Specifics of the bout such as the venue, length, and rules have yet to be announced.
“I’ve been waiting to meet Tyson in the ring for the past three years,” Ngannou said in a news release posted by ESPN. “My dream was always to box, and to box the best. After becoming the undisputed MMA heavyweight champion, this is my opportunity to make that dream come true and cement my position as the baddest man on the planet.
“All I will say to Tyson for now is he better dance in that ring because if I touch him, he’s going to sleep.”
Ngannou, who signed on in MMA with the PFL, isn’t set to debut for the promotion until 2024, for now focusing on boxing and work behind the scenes for the PFL.
Ngannou’s deal with the PFL is exclusive to MMA, allowing him to pursue his interest in boxing. The signing benefits future MMA opponents as well. ‘The Predator’ has since said opponents will get $2 million guaranteed. Ngannou will be earning half the pay-per-view profits
Among the things Ngannou had asked the UFC for aside from money was for fighters to again be able to have in-cage sponsorships and for there to be an advocate for fighters during contract negotiations and health insurance.
Ngannou will also head up PFL Africa and be part of an advisory board for fighters’ interests.
The Fury fight had been discussed for more than a year prior to the announcement.
“I always dreamed of getting Tyson Fury, but he’s not quite available right now,” Ngannou said in May. “… My goal is to have a tune-up fight this year – at least one before next year. That’s the vision for boxing. My team engaged some discussion with Floyd’s Money Team promotion regarding boxing, and we’re going to see about that, but we’re definitely coming out with a plan, and we’re coming out with something very soon.”
“As soon as that bell goes, it’ll be bombs away,” Fury said in the release. “This guy is supposed to be the hardest puncher in the world, but let’s see how he reacts when he gets hit by the Big GK. I can’t wait to get back out there under the lights.
“I’m looking forward to showing the world that ‘The Gypsy King’ is the greatest fighter of his generation in an epic battle with another master of his craft. Francis looked tough when he jumped in the ring after the [Dillian] Whyte fight, but there is no one tougher than me.”
“Queensberry Chairman Frank Warren told talkSport that the bout will not be an exhibition bout but revealed that Fury’s WBC title will not be on the line and said he is unsure whether it will count towards the official record of either fighter.”