'losing to an MMA fighter would be a humiliation I couldn't live down' - Says Tyson Fury at the Fury vs Ngannou Press Conference
Tyson Fury was in his usual charismatic form on Thursday, trying to persuade anyone willing to listen that an inexperienced heavyweight has a real chance of knocking him out in their upcoming Fury vs Ngannou match next month.
The flamboyant showman pointed out that anyone, from a random person at a bar to a female interviewer, could potentially knock out the undefeated WBC champion if they landed the right punch. Fury cautioned that if he were to underestimate Francis Ngannou and get knocked out by the former UFC heavyweight champion, it would be a disaster.
This fear has driven Fury to train twice as hard for their 10-round exhibition match, scheduled for October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, compared to his preparations for title fights against Deontay Wilder. While many boxing fans and media outlets consider Ngannou an unlikely threat to Fury, the lineal champion, at 35 years old, sees Ngannou’s raw power as a legitimate danger.
“I only trained for six weeks for Deontay Wilder, I’m dedicating 12 weeks to prepare for Francis Ngannou. So, I need to be at my absolute best because there’s more at stake now than just a boxing match. Losing to a fellow champion might not be too bad, but losing to an MMA fighter would be a humiliation I couldn’t live down. People would mock me forever. So, this fight means more to me than any other.”
Ngannou, at 37, had knocked out 12 opponents in 20 professional MMA matches (17-3) before agreeing to box Fury. He had an impressive six-fight winning streak in the UFC before leaving the organization last year when his contract expired.
Despite the doubts, Fan Duel still lists Fury as a 13-1 favorite to win the Fury vs Ngannou pay-per-view main event.
Earlier this year, Fury and his team attempted to negotiate a title unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk’s representatives, but they couldn’t make it happen. This added to the criticism when it became clear that Fury’s only fight in 2023 wouldn’t even be against a professional boxer, let alone the undefeated IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion.
Nevertheless, Fury suspects that Ngannou, who stands at 6 feet 4 inches and weighs 260 pounds, might pack just as much, if not more, punching power than the taller and lighter Wilder. Fury, who stands at 6 feet 9 inches, insists he’s treating his training camp for this unique event as seriously as he would for a fight against Wilder.
“Regardless of how the media portrays it, know this – Tyson Fury will leave no stone unturned, and I will come into this fight in the best shape of my life to defeat this man. And if I don’t, and I get knocked out, then laugh at me. I would deserve it. I’d be an idiot not to give my absolute all in training for someone like Francis. He’s a powerhouse, and I have the utmost respect for him. I’m in the gym every day, training as hard as I possibly can.”