Francis Ngannou is set for a major showdown as he gears up to face undefeated boxing champion Tyson Fury in a highly anticipated boxing match.
The clash is scheduled to take place on October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ESPN was the first to unveil the fight's date and location.
According to Queensberry Chairman Frank Warren, this won't be an exhibition bout. However, he mentioned that Fury's WBC title won't be at stake, and it remains uncertain whether the match will be included in the official records of either fighter.
Ngannou took to Twitter to confirm the upcoming bout.
"My dream was always to box, and to box the best," Ngannou said in his statement. "After becoming the undisputed MMA Heavyweight Champion, this is my opportunity to make that dream come true and cement my position as the baddest man on the planet."
The highly anticipated cross-sport clash between Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury will follow Queensberry rules and consist of 10 rounds. However, it won't be for Fury's renowned green and gold title.
Unlike the metal cage in which Ngannou made a name for himself in the UFC, the bout will take place in a traditional boxing ring.
Furthermore, Ngannou, known for his incredible journey starting at a Paris MMA gym, will be restricted from utilizing his expertise in kicks, elbows, or chokeholds during the match.
Fury had this to say in a press release about the event.
“This guy is supposed to be the hardest puncher in the world, but let’s see how he reacts when he gets hit by big GK. I’m looking forward to showing that the Gypsy King is the greatest fighter of his generation. It’s gonna be a fight for the ages,” Fury said.
"I can't wait to get back out there under the lights. I'm looking forward to showing the world that The Gypsy King is the greatest fighter of his generation in an epic battle with another master of his craft."
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said Tuesday that Fury received special permission to fight Ngannou as there is no official challenger. Sulaiman said Fury tried to close fights against Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk, but no agreements were reached.
Fury and Ngannou teased a future meeting in April 2022, sharing the ring after Fury's sixth-round TKO victory over Dillian Whyte in London to retain his WBC heavyweight title.
"Big Francis Ngannou is here today," Fury said at the time. "He's on my hit list in an exhibition fight, however he wants it: in a cage, in a boxing ring, boxing gloves, UFC gloves, we can make it happen. I think everyone wants to see it. He's a monster of a guy, I'm a monster of a guy, so it will be a clash of the titans for sure."
The 34-year-old Englishman triumphantly returned in December, engaging in a thrilling trilogy battle against Derek Chisora and securing a 10th-round stoppage victory. This win allowed him to maintain his top spot in ESPN's heavyweight rankings.
Previously, negotiations were underway for Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) to face Usyk in a highly anticipated clash for the undisputed heavyweight championship at London's Wembley Stadium in April. Unfortunately, these discussions fell through in March.
Now, the esteemed boxer, ranked No. 7 pound-for-pound by ESPN, will face off against one of the most renowned names in combat sports in a star-studded event taking place in the Middle East.
Ngannou (20-3-3 MMA record) last competed in January 2022, successfully defending his UFC heavyweight championship through a unanimous-decision victory against Ciryl Gane at UFC 270. Notably, this turned out to be his final bout in the Octagon.
Following failed contract extension negotiations with the UFC, Ngannou amicably parted ways with the MMA organization in January. With his boxing debut on the horizon, he is poised to fulfill a lifelong dream that began when he fled Cameroon for France at the age of 26.
Ngannou, 36, underwent surgery in March to repair his MCL and ACL. Two months later, he signed a deal with the PFL that allowed him to box as well.
"My next step has to be boxing," Ngannou told ESPN's Brett Okamoto in March. "I want to do one boxing match first, and then maybe go back to MMA because I still enjoy MMA. I want to do a couple of fights in boxing. We are working on some stuff, and hopefully in a month or two I will be able to come out with an announcement on potential fight dates and locations.
"It's taking a little longer than I expected, but it's coming along. Big things come with time."
A clash between Fury and Ngannou would simply postpone the opportunity to face Usyk, the unified heavyweight champion, as it is far from the ideal preparation for such a significant bout.
Nevertheless, it could signify Fury's intention to maximize his financial prospects in boxing without exposing himself to the highest level of risk.
However, it is the boxing community that ultimately suffers from the absence of these major fights, and this sentiment was widely echoed on social media.