When Tyson Fury hit the canvas in round three, my eyebrows went up.
Fury was fighting a guy making his professional debut. A novice is not supposed to knock down the heavyweight champion of the world.
All I knew about Francis Ngannou was that he was an MMA star and a former heavyweight champion or something.
Many fans compared the fight to when Muhammad Ali wrestled Antonio Inoki in 1976. Not even close. Ali fought all the top heavyweights in the 1960s and 70s. He recaptured the heavyweight crown from George Foreman in 1974. Ali defended it seven times before his exhibition match with Inoki. Yes, exhibition.
In other words, Ali earned it.
So please stop.
Fury versus Ngannou was akin, in some ways, to when heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson fought Pete Rademacher in 1957.
Rademacher captured a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic Games. His professional debut was against Patterson.
The buzz was negative. The great Joe Louis called the fight “the worst mismatch in boxing history.”
I wonder what he thought when Rademacher floored Patterson in round two. Patterson dusted himself and, for the next four rounds, sent Rademacher to the canvas seven times.
He won by KO in round six.
If Fury had stopped Ngannou, the criticism would have been less intense.
But it was Ngannou who showed poise and a game plan. And a chin.
Fury didn’t fight like a champion with superior skills. He fought defensively. The knockdown had rattled him. It woke him up. Fury fought better in the next stanza, but as his trainer Sugar Hill said, “It’s not there.”
Fury said this about the knockdown, “That (the knockdown) definitely wasn’t in the script. He’s a very awkward man, and he’s a good puncher. He was standing back and waiting for me to land my punches and then try to counter. [The knockdown] is part of boxing. I got caught behind the head again. My legs weren’t hurt or nothing. I was alright.”
By round seven, the sluggish Fury was sucking wind. A second wind wasn’t there. Or level.
Why was that?
Did Fury train?
He said he’d been in camp for 12 months. Perhaps, but maybe his so-called training wasn’t serious. He wasn’t in “boxing” shape. I think he was elsewhere mentally.
Or…he’s washed up – passe. Over-the-hill. That one’s sneaky. It can appear when least expected. You’ll hear, “He got old overnight.” Fury is 35. He’s been inactive off and on during his career. He’s also absorbed some Deontay Wilder bombs.
These “things” add up.
In the end, his jab saved him.
I had paid little attention to the fight for obvious reasons. Fury entered the ring, a 20-1 favorite. He exited it a winner by split decision but a loser in the eyes of many.
The big winner was Francis Ngannou.
Ngannou lost the fight but won the war. His future is up to him.
His undisputed fight against Oleksandr Usyk in December is now in question.
No surprise there.
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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