Heavyweight Champion Tyson Fury
Edges Francis Ngannou By Split Decision
Photos: Mikey Williams - Top Rank
It wasnít without its fair share of surprises, but The
Gypsy King prevailed.
WBC & lineal heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson
Fury overcame an early knockdown to secure a 10-round
split decision victory over lineal MMA heavyweight world
champion Francis Ngannou Saturday evening at Kingdom
Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The long-awaited battle of behemoths kicked off Riyadh
Season, one of the worldís leading entertainment
festivals, which runs throughout the winter months in
the Kingdomís largest city.
In the opening seconds, Fury leaped from his corner to
land a quick right, but Ngannouís awkwardness and
strength soon slowed the pace. Then, as he appeared to
get his rhythm, Fury was dropped with a counter left
hook from Ngannou.
Fury got back to his feet to face a fired-up Ngannou,
but a few robust right hands from The Gypsy King help to
temper the MMA legendís aggression. Fury continued to
box, though he received numerous punches as he engaged
with Ngannou on the inside in the eighth round, after
which he resumed his outside game to try to secure the
final two rounds.
Fury returned successfully from an almost 11-month
layoff with scores of 96-93 and 95-94, which overruled
one score of 95-94 for Ngannou.
Fury said, "That definitely wasnít in the script. Heís
one hell of a fighter. Heís strong, a big puncher, and a
lot better as a boxer than we thought he would ever be.
Heís a very awkward man, and heís a good puncher. I
respect him a lot, before the fight and afterward.
ďHe was very awkward. He wasnít coming forward. He was
standing back and waiting for me to land my punches and
then try to counter. Heís a good fighter. Heís given me
one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years.
ďItís part of boxing. I got caught behind the head
again. My legs werenít hurt or nothing. I was alright.
And I got back up and it was what it was. And I got back
to my boxing. I donít know how close it was. But I got
the win, and thatís what it is.Ē
Ngannou said, "We can run it back again, and Iím sure I
will get the better. This was my first boxing match. It
was a great experience. Iím not giving any excuse. I
know I came up short. But Iím going to go back and work
harder with a little more experience and a little more
feeling of the game. And I will come back even stronger.
"At first, I was a little nervous. This is a new sport
that I never did. Now I know I can do this sh*t. So, get
Heavyweight: In an all-British showdown, Fabio Wardley
(17-0, 16 KOs) put an exclamation point on a bitter,
months-long rivalry with David Adeleye (12-1, 11 KOs) by
scoring a seventh-round TKO. Wardley pressed the action
while Adeleye circled the ring. Adeleye found openings
in the fifth round, but in round seven, Wardley was back
in control with firm jabs. Then, while separating from a
clinch, Wardley landed a right-left combo that floored
Adeleye and ended matters with another combo shortly
thereafter. Time of stoppage: 2:43.
Heavyweight Former heavyweight world champion Joseph
Parker (33-3, 23 KOs) defeated Canadian knockout artist
Simon Kean (23-2, 22 KOs) via third-round TKO. Parker
spent the first two rounds deciphering Keanís defense.
He then began to land uppercuts in between Kean's guard,
first wobbling him and then stopping him with another.
Time of stoppage: 2:04.
Heavyweight: Montreal-based wrecking ball Arslanbek
Makhmudov (18-0, 17 KOs) notched a first-round TKO
against Junior Anthony Wright (20-5-1, 17 KOs).
Makhmudov dropped Wright with a right hand followed by
consecutive left hooks. Wright survived the knockdown,
but another right hand by "The Lion" nearly had Wright
out on his feet, forcing referee Steve Gray to stop the
fight. Time of stoppage: 1:10.
Heavyweight: 18-year-old British prodigy Moses Itauma
(6-0, 4 KOs) iced Istvan Bernath (10-2, 8 KOs) via
first-round TKO. Itauma sent Bernath to the canvas with
a jab before ending matters with combinations around
Bernath's guard. Time of stoppage: 1:53.