Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou: big money, big mismatch

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Here we go again.

Tyson Fury and UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou made it clear after Fury knocked out Dillian Whyte this past Saturday that they intend to exchange punches in a hybrid fight, Ngannou saying it will happen next year.

‘Hybrid” evidently means they’d wear small MMA gloves instead of boxing’s version. Otherwise it evidently would be a boxing match.

The matchup makes perfect sense from a business standpoint, just as the fight between superstars Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor did 2017. The mother of all crossover fights generated 4.3 million pay-per-view buys at $100 a pop in the U.S., which was in part the result of tapping into both boxing and MMA fanbases.

Fury-Ngannou wouldn’t do those kind of numbers but it would do well for the same reason. At least one million buys (2 million?) at $79.99 or more is a reasonable projection. That’s why the event is attractive to both men, who are prizefighters after all.

The heavyweight matchup has something else in common with Mayweather-McGregor: It’s an utter mismatch.

The 6-foot-9 Fury is a master boxer who has honed his unusual skills over more than two decades, which has made him the most successful heavyweight boxer of his era. Ngannou’s skill set is solid by MMA standards, crude by boxing standards.

Fury almost certainly would toy with Ngannou until he decides the time is right to take him out, as Mayweather did with the grossly overmatched McGregor.

Of course, Ngannou has a puncher’s chance, which is the most interesting element of the projected matchup. One respected MMA expert told me that he believes Ngannou has the punching power of former heavywight champion Deontay Wilder, who put Fury down a total of four times in their three fights.

And the small gloves might work in the Cameroonian’s favor: The relative lack of padding probably adds to the impact of a punch.

Here are some possible issues for Ngannou, however. One, it’s hard to believe he has the power of Wilder, who is considered one of the hardest punchers in the history of boxing. And even if he does, Fury, blessed with remarkable recuperative powers, got up from all four knockdowns against Wilder.

And, two, the MMA expert said that Ngannou – at 6-foot-4, around 260 pounds – isn’t particularly quick handed. That was part of the problem for Whyte last Saturday. Fury saw everything coming at him, which made it easy for him avoid Whyte’s heavy punches and land his own almost at will.

And, three, while Fury isn’t known as a knockout artist, he can punch, too. He stopped Wilder in their second and third fights and delivered an epic single-uppercut knockout Saturday in front of a U.K.-record 94,000 at Wembley Stadium in London.

None of that bodes well for Ngannou, who, again, would have about the same chance of winning this proposed boxing match as Fury would of winning by MMA rules. Almost no chance.

If you’re aware of that fact and you still want to fork out hard-earned money to see it, then God bless you. Enjoy the spectacle. If you think that Fury vs. Ngannou is a competitive matchup, you might want to think a little harder before committing to it.

I wrote essentially the same thing before the Mayweather-McGregor “fight.” And we know what happened there.

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