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Tyson Fury says a fight with Francis Ngannou is “Very Possible”

Ngannou delivers Fury ultimatum

In the wake of Tyson Fury’s impressive demolition of Dillian Whyte at the end of April – a six-round performance that saw Fury retain his WBC heavyweight crown in front of a sell-out crowd at Wembley – reporting suggested that it would be the last time we saw Fury fight.

That wasn’t speculation but based on Fury’s own talk after the fight, which took him to a record of 32 wins and a draw, from 33 contests.

According to Fury, he had promised his family that the Whyte fight would be his last, and in his immediate comments, the 33-year-old seemed to be committed to hanging up his gloves with an impressive unbeaten record.

Yet that win over Whyte further cemented Fury’s reputation as a box-office fighting star, someone who can fill seats, move odds in the betting markets and generate huge amounts of publicity. The pressure for him to return for one more fight will build over the next few weeks.

Suggestions that he might reconsider his retirement have so far concentrated on the possibility of a unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk, who beat Anthony Joshua back in September, bringing together the WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF belts.

But could there be another possibility? Could Fury be enticed to come out of retirement for a more left-field challenge: namely, taking on the best that the UFC has to offer?

 

Ngannou problem

Contract wrangles are nothing new in the UFC, and one of the most significant ongoing arguments right now is over the future arrangements for Francis Ngannou, the current UFC heavyweight champion.

The organization wants to lock him into a long-term contract but that process was made a lot more difficult by Ngannou’s most recent ultimatum: that he only wants to put pen to paper if he can fight Fury.

According to an interview with the MMA media, Ngannou said that a Fury fight would have to be part of the discussion with the UFC and that without it, there will be no new contract.

Ngannou said that he has spoken to senior figures at the UFC, although that meeting was said to be largely a clear-the-air get-together, at which no specific contract details were under discussion.

Ngannou has said that he is also looking at fights against Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic, but that those would come after a potential Fury fight, and that he would ideally want to do that in a UFC context.

He has hinted that he would be prepared to set up a Fury fight outside the UFC – it has even been suggested that such a fight could take place in Africa in 2023, like the so-called “Rumble In The Jungle 2” but that seems unlikely to go ahead without the UFC’s agreement.

 

Predicting a Fury versus Ngannou fight

If it does happen, the fight promises to be a significant clash of styles as well as fighting disciplines. As he showed against Whyte, Fury is a formidable operator.

With a significant height and reach advantage, Fury was able to spend the majority of the bout on the outside, and as the challenger tried to close the space, he used his jab to control the distance and hit Whyte with lead hooks.

Eventually, Whyte was knocked out by a spectacular uppercut in the sixth round and although he scrambled to his feet, the fight was rightly stopped by the referee.

Ngannou is reckoned to be one of the hardest punchers in the UFC world, but if the fight were to be run as a straight boxing bout, Fury would be a huge favorite.

Ngannou has instead suggested the possibility of a hybrid contest – with such compromises as fighting barefoot or using MMA gloves, though at this point, such arrangements are just speculation.

And when it comes to arrangements, it is clear that Ngannou needs Fury more than the other way around. Fury would be under no pressure to agree to anything, including the choice of venue, and a fight in Vegas would make more sense for him than a contest in Africa or a hybrid bout.

 

Will it happen?

One of the clearest signs that the fight may happen is the fact that Ngannou and Fury embraced in the ring after the Whyte contest was over and both have spoken about the possibilities.

There is a lot that will have to happen before this can become reality. For one thing, Ngannou is still recovering from knee surgery and is likely to be out until 2023. And in that time, Fury will have plenty of opportunities to weigh up his options.

Chief among these is how much he would really be prepared to compromise in order to agree to a fight against the UFC heavyweight champion. For now, such a fight remains only a possibility, but there is no doubt it is a possibility that most fight fans would relish.

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