Former European super-lightweight champion Joe Hughes was the matchmaker for an amateur show at Paddy John’s gym in Bristol last Saturday. After the event he sat down to watch Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou. In his latest column for Boxing News, he believes what happened isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the sport.
BOXING has been in much worse places than it’s in now.
I don’t think last weekend proves boxing is on its last legs. If anything, it justifies what an amazing sport it is. You can look at it in a negative way, I would choose to look at it in a positive way. For a debutant and a massive underdog to show up and give the performance he did against such odds is something you don’t see in any other sport. Boxing is unique in that sense. I suppose you could say MMA is similar, but I still think boxing is unique.
It’s not the best look if you think Tyson Fury is the best heavyweight we’ve got at the moment, after he struggled with a guy boxing professionally for the first time. That isn’t good for heavyweight boxing nor Fury himself. But in terms of the sport it shows what an amazing sport we’ve got. There are so many negatives and so many people are happy to shine a light on them, however, there are far worse things happening in the sport than Tyson Fury struggling to beat Francis Ngannou. Boxing has been around for hundreds of years and it’s still standing. It used to be run by the mafia and it survived. People dying in the ring is the worst look for the sport and the problem of performance enhancing drugs in boxing is a bigger problem than two amazing characters and inspirational people having a fight.
As for the fight itself I thought Fury just edged it. I think a lot of the talk about it since is because of the shock at how well Ngannou performed. I was really impressed with him. It has to go down as an all-time great debut and is backed up further because of the level of opponent he faced and the knockdown he scored.
Fury used his jab and used his range quite well, and he was landing some long right hands, but nothing huge. Ngannou never suffered any damage or looked like he was in trouble, but I thought Fury was nicking a lot of the close rounds. Even the round he went down I thought he was winning it up until then. But you can’t say enough good things about Ngannou. What a performance for someone in their first fight and I think that’s why so many people think he won. Everyone including myself thought he had no chance.
I would like to see Ngannou in with the other top heavyweights. I think he’s proved he can hang at that level although it wasn’t the best Tyson Fury we’ve seen. Is he over the hill? You could suggest a number of factors were behind his performance, but I guess we won’t know until he fights again. I would like to see Ngannou-Deontay Wilder or Ngannou-Anthony Joshua – those would be really entertaining and intriguing. Hopefully the fight we get is Fury-Oleksandr Usyk next. That’s the fight everyone really wants to see.
I can understand why the WBC thinks Ngannou should be given ranking. Based on his performance I think he deserves it. He’s run their champion very, very close. I’m interested in seeing him fight more top guys. I think what the WBC really should be thinking about is the number of belts they are producing – nearly every big fight has one attached to it. It’s become an absolute farce.
If I was Ngannou’s manager, Joshua would be the one to go after. He’d have a good chance of landing his big shots against Joshua. And even though Joshua is a powerful puncher I don’t think he’s the dangerous fighter he used to be. I’d still pick Joshua, but it would be interesting and Ngannou has a chance of winning.
The Wilder fight would be very interesting. One would suspect Wilder would land his shots before Ngannou did. Wilder can go down though and Ngannou is physically very strong and perhaps both fights would be a coin flip. I wouldn’t pick Usyk for him. I think Usyk would pick him apart and he’d pile up the points and be savvy enough to get out of harm’s way.
I’d choose all three to beat Ngannou but after what he did you can’t write him off. I thought Fury would play with him. I thought it would be so one-sided it’d be embarrassing and ridiculous to watch. Ngannou has now thrown his hat in the mix and he’s in a really positive place for his next move. If I was him, I’d ditch the MMA. He can fight the big names in boxing’s heavyweight division and make ridiculous amounts of money.