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Cameroonian MMA Champ Francis Ngannou Gives Promising Debut in Heavyweight Boxing Ring
Francis Ngannou earned a knockdown against British heavyweight title-holder Tyson Fury in his boxing debut, though losing the match in a split decision.
In his professional boxing debut last Saturday, the French-Cameroonian fighter Francis Ngannou captured the attention of the combat sports world, despite falling just short against Tyson Fury. Ngannou, the underdog, managed to drop Fury in the third round and even convinced one judge that he was the winner. The controversial split-decision win for Fury raises questions about Ngannou's future in the ring. Will he continue his boxing journey, potentially taking on opponents like Anthony Joshua? Or will he return to the world of MMA, setting his sights on big fights there?
Before their clash in Saudi Arabia, Fury disclosed that there was no rematch clause for either fighter. While the Gypsy King is expected to face rival heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk next, a proposed fight date of December 23rd appears unlikely. Ngannou, at the age of 37, believes he deserves a rematch, expressing on social media, "I'll keep my eyes on him. Hopefully we get a rematch. This time, things will be different." Frank Warren, Fury's co-promoter, has also suggested the possibility of working with Ngannou, proposing a fight with Joe Joyce for the rising boxing star.
In a recent update on his future, Ngannou, now 36, revealed that discussions are progressing with Deontay Wilder's representatives, though he remains open to other offers. He stated, "My next step has to be boxing. I want to do one boxing match first, and then maybe go back to MMA because I still enjoy MMA. I want to do a couple of fights in boxing." Ngannou is in talks about potential fight dates and locations, and while he spoke with Eddie Hearn about a match against Anthony Joshua, he is considering various opponents.
Deontay Wilder, who has fought only once in the last year, expressed interest in a two-fight deal with Ngannou, with the possibility of one fight held in Africa, marking the 50th anniversary of Muhammad Ali's historic bout. Ngannou is signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), but his next assignment in MMA remains uncertain, even though PFL executive Donn Davis hinted at a potential MMA match in 2024. Davis acknowledged that there may be limited compelling opponents for Ngannou within the PFL.
Rumors of a fight between Ngannou and UFC champion Jon Jones persist, despite Ngannou's split with the UFC. The PFL is open to collaborating with its rival, but UFC president Dana White has historically opposed the idea. Davis believes that Jon Jones is the most appealing option for Ngannou, although Jones is expected to miss the next nine months due to surgery on a pectoral tendon. Ngannou's next move in MMA remains uncertain.
Eddie Hearn, the Matchroom promoter, quickly joined the discussion on Ngannou's potential opponents. Hearn believes that a fight between Ngannou and two-time heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua could draw significant interest, especially after Ngannou's impressive showing against Fury. Hearn, who manages Joshua, envisions the fight taking place in Africa, as both fighters have roots on the continent – Ngannou hails from Cameroon, while Joshua has Nigerian family heritage.
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