In recent months there have been rumors of a clash between UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. All this talk has bubbled up as Ngannou prepares to defend his title against Ciryl Gane on January 22 at UFC 270.
So how would Ngannou, a power puncher, fare in the boxing world?
Former trainer Fernand Lopez, who has been embroiled in a bitter rivalry with Ngannou since the last one left MMA Factory, gave his take on Ngannou’s interest in becoming a two-way combat athlete.
While Ngannou showed an interest in boxing when he was younger, he has not stepped into a ring. The move might make sense to some degree, but Lopez believes Ngannou’s inexperience would cost him.
“I think the fight makes sense for Francis because he thinks he can cash it in,” said Lopez. “It would take at least three years for Francis Ngannou to be competitive with Tyson Fury from a boxing standpoint, and I mean three years dedicated to boxing alone. Not sure if Francis can ever challenge Tyson Fury’s stamina or stamina. All he can do is have a high defense; be elusive, close the footwork, change direction.”
“Realistically he should stop doing everything else and probably do nothing else for three years, just boxing. No wrestling, nothing else. The way his body and muscles are built won’t allow him to go after the third.” keep throwing rounds… I don’t see how he can win the match, this is an opportunity for him to pay out.”
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Ngannou started boxing at the age of 22 and at the age of 26 he wanted to pursue a career in it. While in Paris, he met Lopez, who persuaded him to join the world of MMA. From 2013-18 Ngannou was a member of MMA Factory and defeated opponents with ease. He joined the UFC in 2015 and won six in a row but lost to Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title in January 2018. He left MMA Factory for Xtreme Couture and won five in a row, including the UFC heavyweight since November 2018. title in March.
Fury (31-0-1) has been boxing professionally since 2008 and has competed since about 2006. The lineal champion won the gold medal at the 2008 English National Championships. The “Gypsy King” defeated Deontay Wilder in 2020 to win the WBC heavyweight title, earning approximately $54 million in 2021. Outside of Lopez, Ngannou has been at an impasse with the UFC regarding his contract. A potential fight with Jon Jones was scrapped on the basis of money, and Ngannou, 35, is looking to get the best deal for him, especially as champion. Lopez believes the amount of money he can make would run out if he moves into boxing, along with the years of skills it takes to get into a ring.
“I’m not sure if you’re a UFC fighter, it’s worth letting it all go and doing three years of steady boxing training – how would you live your life, what would your income be? And after three years I you might be competitive enough to stay there,” Lopez said.
“We don’t expect anything brilliant, Francis is not a boxer. You train a lot to become a boxer. Boxing needs dedication, boxing needs sacrifices, you need years and years to train. So we know the outcome of that fight. The question is how much Francis Ngannou can make a lot of money, because he only has one chance. Objectively speaking, he cannot think of having a boxing career because his boxing skills will not be enough to become a boxer.”
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Ngannou and Lopez have been arguing since the fighter left MMA Factory. Part of the reason is that Ngannou believes Lopez wanted the spotlight on him, which has led Lopez to question his abilities. Another factor is sparring over images of Ngannou and Gane that the former thinks were shared to make him look bad.
Ngannou will face a former teammate in Gane at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. That’s the last fight on his current deal with the UFC. Could conversations about a Fury fight and contract disputes be a distraction in the lead up to the title fight? According to Lopez, there is a lot at stake for Ngannou en route to the game.
“Francis Ngannou wants to switch to boxing, but he can only do that if he is the champion,” said Lopez. “If he leaves the UFC and he’s not the champion, whatever company he wants to go to, it doesn’t look good. We have to take that into account.”
The quotes in this article first appeared on the Betway US blog