Tyson Fury got more than he bargained for on Saturday night. The WBC heavyweight champion was expected to cruise by former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who was making his pro boxing debut, en route to a showdown with WBA, IBF and IBO champ Oleksandr Usyk.
What played out was stunning to everyone who expected a glorified sparring match like when Floyd Mayweather Jr. battled Conor McGregor. Ngannou was in the fight from the opening bell as he ate most of Fury’s big punches and returned fire. The native of Cameroon even dropped Fury with a left hand in the third round. He failed to capitalize on much of his success, however, as Fury seemed to do the better boxing moves in each round to win on scorecards. In the end, it was a valiant effort from a debutant who lost by split decision and never buckled in the face of adversity.
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The undercard on Saturday night saw four massive finishes in the heavyweight division, mostly with overmatched competition. Moses Itauma and Aslanbek Makhumdov both earned first-round finishes to open the festivities against Istvan Bernath and Junior Anthony Wright, respectively. Plus, former WBO champ Joseph Parker got back in the win column with a third-round TKO of Simon Kean. And Fabio Wardley settled his beef with David Adeleye by stopping his foe in the seventh round.
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Fury vs. Ngannou fight card, results
- Tyson Fury def. Francis Ngannou via split decision (94-95, 96-93, 95-94)
- Fabio Wardley def. David Adeleye via seventh-round TKO
- Joseph Parker def. Simon Kean via third-round TKO
- Arslanbek Makhmudov def. Junior Anthony Wright via first-round TKO
- Moses Itauma def. Istvan Bernath via first-round TKO
Fury vs. Ngannou countdown
- Staff predictions and expert picks for the main event
- Campbell: The power of belief fueling Ngannou in debut
- Mahjouri: What role with Mike Tyson play for Francis Ngannou?
- Brookhouse: Paths to victory for Ngannou against Fury
- Campbell: Biggest storylines to watch in Saudi Arabia
- Fury delighted Tyson is involved in promotion, welcomes danger