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Tyson Fury gets off floor to beat Francis Ngannou in thrilling cross-over fight

Fury gets off floor to beat Ngannou in thrilling cross-over fight
© Reuters
WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury gets off canvas to beat former UFC star Francis Ngannou by split-decision in their Saudi Arabia cross-over fight.

Tyson Fury has controversially defeated Francis Ngannou by split-decision in a cross-over fight that saw the WBC heavyweight champion floored by the former UFC star.

Ahead of the cross-over showdown in Saudi Arabia, Fury was tipped to make light work of Ngannou, who left the UFC at the start of 2022 and had never competed in a professional boxing fight.

However, in one of the most shocking moments in modern-day sport, Ngannou floored Fury in the third, and had the undefeated Brit hurt in the eighth round.

Nevertheless, Fury was given the verdict on the judges' scorecards, a reward for winning a number of quiet rounds and seemingly being given the edge in a couple of close sessions.

While the first scorecard read 95-94 in Ngannou's favour, the others were scored 96-93 and 95-94 in Fury's as he avoided a defeat that would have been comparable to Mike Tyson's against Buster Douglas.

After a prolonged opening ceremony and concert before the main event, there was a level of intrigue over how Ngannou would cope in the opening round and how aggressive Fury would be with an undisputed showdown with three-belt holder Oleksandr Usyk on the horizon.

Instead, there would have been genuine worldwide bewilderment as Ngannou denonated with a left hand in the third, sending a stunned Fury to the canvas.

The Cameroonian-French fighter took the fourth, too, and although Fury could claim the fifth and sixth, he continued to perform as poorly as he has done since overcoming Otto Wallin in September 2019.

Although the seventh was open to interpretation, Ngannou had Fury backed up and rocking in the eighth, with the general feeling being that Fury had entered the stage where a knockout was required.

Rounds nine and 10 featured little action, arguably to the benefit of Fury who was throwing jabs and looking more proactive compared to Ngannou who was prepared to wait for his opponent to come forward.

In hearing the final bell, Ngannou celebrated victory - whether that was moral or in expectation of getting the decision - but if was Fury who avoided the embarrassment of defeat, even if his stock has considerably fallen ahead of a fight with Usyk that will realistically be pushed back into 2024.

On the undercard, Fabio Wardley successfully defended his British heavyweight title by stopping David Adeleye in the seventh round.

While the fight was competitive for the most part, there were times when Wardley looked a class above and the challenger appeared to fade towards the end of the sixth.

In the following round, Wardley landed a sharp one-two on the break, sending Adeleye into the ropes, and although he got to his feet marginally before the 10 count, Wardley finished the job soon afterwards.

The decision of the referee to call off the bout was fair, but Adeleye pushed him away and jabbed him in the stomach in the aftermath, a reaction that is likely to be investigated by the British Boxing Board of Control who had sanctioned a British title fight away from its shores for the first time.

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Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou at a press conference on September 7, 2023.
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