yson Fury has announced a clash against mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou in a boxing contest on October 28 in Saudi Arabia – but the Briton’s WBC heavyweight title will not be at stake.
Fury most recently fought last December, stopping compatriot Derek Chisora inside 10 rounds, but talks over an undisputed world title showdown against Oleksandr Usyk bitterly broke down earlier this year.
While Usyk defends his WBA, IBF and WBO crowns against Fury’s promotional stablemate Daniel Dubois next month, his fellow world champion will go up against someone who has no professional record in boxing.
Ngannou, however, built a reputation as a formidable puncher on his way to becoming UFC heavyweight champion, a title he held until acrimoniously departing the company in January.
A crossover bout has been mooted for some time but while the PA news agency understands Fury will not be defending his world title, the 34-year-old’s camp have insisted this will not be an exhibition.
There will be three ringside judges present and the 10-point must system – the scoring criteria used in all of professional boxing – is being implemented, but it is unclear how many rounds are scheduled.
“This guy is supposed to be the hardest puncher in the world, but let’s see how he reacts when he gets hit by the Big GK,” Fury said.
“I can’t wait to get back out there. 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.
“There is no one tougher than me, and you’ll all see that in devastating fashion on October 28.”
While Fury, who holds a record of 33 wins and one draw, is likely to attract criticism for his choice of opponent, there is a precedent as Floyd Mayweather moved to 50-0 as a boxer by defeating UFC superstar Conor McGregor in a fight that attracted in excess of four million pay-per-view buys.
Ngannou, who has won 17 and lost three of his MMA fights, signed a contract with the PFL – one of the UFC’s rivals – in May, but the deal does not stop the Cameroonian-French fighter from pursuing boxing.
Ngannou – now 36 – initially held ambitions to be a professional boxer but focused on MMA upon arriving in Europe in his mid-20s.
“I’ve been waiting to meet Tyson in the ring for the past three years,” Ngannou said. “My dream was always to box and to box the best.
“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.”