Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou isn’t the first cash grab between boxer and MMA fighter, but hopefully it will be the last

Tyson Fury (left) and Francis Ngannou (right) during a press conference HERE at Outernet, London. Picture date: Thursday September 7, 2023. (Photo by James Manning/PA Images via Getty Images)

WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (l) and former UFC champion Francis Ngannou (r) meet in a boxing match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on October 28. (James Manning/Getty Images)

The great Muhammad Ali once fought Antonio Inoki, a legendary professional wrestler who crawled around the ring like a crab and kicked at his legs. This fight on June 24, 1976 attracted an estimated one billion viewers worldwide.

To build up the fight, Ali performed at professional wrestling house shows, where he was once grabbed by 400-pound wrestler Gorilla Monsoon and put into an airplane spin. He appeared on “The Tonight Show” with infamous heel pro wrestling manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie.

After a “match” with WWWF wrestler Buddy Wolfe, Ali was interviewed in the ring by Vince McMahon. McMahon began the interview with Ali by saying, “Maybe you’re the king of the ring, but maybe you’re not.”

At this point, pro wrestling was still following kayfabe and acting as if it were real. Ali completely fell into the role. After blooding Wolfe in their brief encounter, Ali told McMahon, “He got a little cocky. He grabbed my head and twisted my neck a little. He started bleeding like a pig and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Me.” “I’m not just a boxer; I will whip all the bullies in the world, starting with world champion Antonio Inoki in Japan.”

Ali started talking about how to get his opponents dirty when he turned to Blassie. Blassie didn’t let on, saying, “I’m the man who wrote the book on illegal tactics, how to get in and how to get out.”

In 1975, George Foreman once boxed five men on the same night.

There’s more, but you get the point. No matter how deep you go, when it comes to boxing, you can be sure that someone has tried it before.

And that brings us to the boxing match between lineal heavyweight champion and pound-for-pound great Tyson Fury and former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. They will meet in another boxer versus MMA fighter match on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

It’s about money, and at a press conference in London on Thursday both men pointed to the significant salary they will earn. They will look to use their notoriety in their own sports to capitalize on their big names.

There shouldn’t be a problem with that. Fighting is a dangerous profession and if an athlete can make money, that’s great.

But the trick between boxer and MMA fighter is getting old; We know how this sport will go. Floyd Mayweather proved it when he outboxed Conor McGregor in Las Vegas on August 26, 2017. Jake Paul, of all people, proved it when he defeated MMA fighters Nate Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren.

World heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali meets the press at a hotel in Tokyo on June 19, 1976, along with former professional wrestler Freddie Blassie. (AP Photo/KCK)

The legendary Muhammad Ali (R) employed the services of renowned pro wrestling manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie to promote his fight against professional wrestler Antonio Inoki in 1976. (The Associated Press)

However, they will try again, and the hype was in full swing on Thursday.

When Dev Sahni of Queensberry Promotions brought Ngannou on stage, he called him “arguably the strongest athlete in the history of combat sports.” While Ngannou is indeed a vicious, even fearsome puncher, calling him the strongest in combat sports history is beyond exaggeration.

The same goes for Fury’s comment that he would knock out Ngannou in an MMA fight. Book it: Ngannou would beat Fury in an MMA fight faster than Fury could beat Ngannou in a boxing match.

However, Fury got to the heart of the reason for the fight when he talked not just about the money, but what the exposure would mean for him and expose him to a new audience of MMA fans who don’t all see him that way know well what boxing fans are like.

“I’m going to go in there and enjoy it because I’m in the twilight zone of my career,” Fury said. “I turned 35 last week. I want to enjoy it and enjoy the last bit of my career that I have left. You never know when it will all be over. God forbid I go in there and argue with Ngannou.” [and suffer] an ACL or a shoulder or a cut eye, whatever. You never know what’s around the corner, so you have to take advantage of it and enjoy every minute. That’s what I do. I am a born entertainer.

“Those guys aren’t after me, those boxers. They’re like men in suits, like office workers and stuff.” [They’re] Stiff, boring and everyone is fed up with it. It’s a show and I’m the only show in town.

That’s a good point.

Still, it is disappointing to many that Fury won this fight, which he will likely win outright rather than fight Oleksandr Usyk for supremacy in boxing’s heavyweight division.

But from Fury’s perspective, he knows he should win on the road and can chase Usyk to Ngannou.

For Ngannou, it’s a roll of the dice. He’s being set up in front of an audience that doesn’t really know him. He is considered one of the greatest punchers of all time, despite never having boxed and, more importantly, wearing 4-ounce gloves in MMA, compared to the 10-ounce gloves he will wear when fighting Fury boxing.

For Sahni, it was almost sacrilegious to describe Ngannou as “arguably” the greatest puncher of all time. Yes, you could argue that Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez is the greatest puncher of all time (just ask Tim Anderson of the White Sox), but that’s an argument that’s not enough. Sahni neglected to even mention people like Deontay Wilder, Mike Tyson, Foreman, Rocky Marciano, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey, Earnie Shavers and so many others.

Of course, this all serves to set up the event and sell it.

The event will sell better the more the fighters hype it and the more they convince the public that Ngannou can win. That hasn’t happened in any of these boxer vs. MMA fights.

We hope that Ngannou comes out of the fight healthy and can enter the Professional Fighters League stronger and ready to do his thing in MMA.

We hope that after this we learn our lesson and let the boxers continue to compete and the MMA fighters continue to compete.

Unfortunately, an idiot is born every minute.


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