Promoter Bob Arum thinks potential Francis Ngannou vs. Tyson Fury bout ‘should be easy to make’

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(Editor’s note: This column originally published at USA TODAY Sports, part of the USA TODAY Network.)

Tyson Fury’s promoter Bob Arum watched his fighter turn in a heavyweight title defense for the ages Saturday. Fury, 33, delivered a vicious uppercut to score a sixth-round technical knockout of countryman Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 at England’s Wembley Stadium.

And for all of Fury’s declarations that he would leave the sport following this bout, Arum knows there’s no way a fighter can walk away after thriving through a moment like that.

“No, he definitely won’t retire. Of course not. Are you crazy?” Arum told USA TODAY Sports+ minutes after Fury improved to 32-0-1 with 23 knockouts in the one-sided triumph.

Fury couldn’t even get out of the ring before hyping a potential next bout — a hybrid combat-sports event versus UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who entered the Wembley ring afterward. Ngannou spoke of fighting Fury in lighter MMA-style gloves.

“I’m the boxing heavyweight champion. This is the UFC heavyweight champion. Is he in good shape? Look at the muscles on him,” Fury told the ESPN+ audience. “This is going to be one very special fight, like one never before seen in the sport. We’re not talking two light guys. It’s going to be an explosive fight when it happens.”

Ngannou responded, “I’m going to find out who is the baddest (man) on the planet. … It’s going to be a hybrid fight. MMA gloves, in the ring. Something different.”

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Arum — who remained in the U.S. after showing COVID-19 symptoms recently — spoke on the phone to Fury as the champion rejoiced in the ring.

The veteran promoter of Las Vegas-based Top Rank said he believes it’s reasonable that Fury-Ngannou can happen because both Top Rank and the UFC have ESPN broadcast deals in place.

UFC President Dana White did not immediately respond to messages left by USA TODAY Sports+, but he’s stated before that it would be “a really bad idea” for Ngannoun to box Fury.

“I don’t know what (Ngannou’s) contract situation with the UFC is,” Arum said. “Obviously, it’d be a massive fight, and it should be easy to make.”

Arum plans to arrange a dinner meeting with Fury when the WBC champion arrives in Las Vegas in two weeks.

“We’ll have plenty of time to talk everything out,” said Arum.

With three-belt heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of Ukraine preparing to stage his rematch against England’s former world champion Anthony Joshua in July, the expectation has been Fury will meet the winner of that bout first.

Fighting Ngannou, who is expected to be recovered from knee surgery around November, would follow the wildly popular 2017 boxing-UFC clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr. And Conor McGregor. That event produced more than 4 million pay-per-view buys — second only to Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao two years earlier.

Ngannou’s dominance is rooted in his stand-up prowess, so there is interest in how an attack backed by the Cameroon fighter’s heavy punches would fare against Fury’s far more disciplined style.

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