One person who wasn’t surprised by Francis Ngannou’s performance against Tyson Fury was Peter Murray.
The CEO of PFL MMA, Ngannou’s mixed martial arts promoter, expected him to do well in his boxing debut against the heavyweight boxing champion last week in Saudi Arabia. And even though Fury won a split decision, Murray believes Ngannou made an enormous statement.
“Francis was underestimated by everyone,” Murray told Boxing Junkie, “sports fans, boxing fans, combat sports fans around the world. That included Tyson Fury. Francis proved he’s the best combat sports athlete in the world.
“Now he’s got more fuel to take on the sport of boxing in addition to continuing to compete in MMA with PFL. In my opinion the [decision] went the wrong way but he came out a winner.”
What’s next after his break through?
That will be up to Ngannou, who reportedly is considering his options. You can bet the Las Vegas-based native of Cameroon will compete in both boxing and MMA going forward, probably making his decisions fight by fight depending on opportunities.
He’s a proven commodity in MMA, in which he is 17-3 (12 KOs) and was the UFC heavyweight champion. However, he became a major player in boxing over night with his strong performance against the unbeaten champion.
Fury appears to be headed toward a showdown with fellow titleholder Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed championship this winter, perhaps in February. A Fury-Ngannou rematch could come later.
And former champs Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua reportedly have been negotiating to fight one another.
Ngannou reportedly also has been in contact with Wilder, though. And, according to Murray, they could meet under hybrid boxing-MMA rules.
“Some of the best athletes, some of the best fighters in boxing would like to compete against Francis in his next bout. We’re evaluating those options and plotting his next move in MMA,” Murray said.
“And, yes, fighting Wilder is an absolute possibility under modified rules. They are two incredible athletes, Francis and Deontay. We would expand the rules. …
“We wouldn’t put Deontay in a cage with Francis under current MMA rules. With some modifications, we could level the playing field and make it really interesting for the fans.”
Of course, the negotiation process is just getting started Ngannou. And it could go on for a while. That’s what happens when you make the kind of statement he made on a huge stage.
And it doesn’t seem to matter than he’s 37 years old.
“He’s the Tom Brady of MMA,” Murray said. “There are a number of years to come.”