Tyson Fury beats former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in controversial split decision win

29 October 2023, 00:46 | Updated: 29 October 2023, 01:06

Tyson Fury was knocked down in the third round
Tyson Fury was knocked down in the third round. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Tyson Fury has defeated former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in a controversial split decision win, in which the heavyweight boxing champion was forced to recover from a third-round knockdown.

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The super-fight, which took place in Saudi Arabia, went the full distance (10 rounds), with Ngannou surprising Fury with his speed, stamina, and accuracy.

Ngannou's performance - his first in a boxing ring - has earned him praise from across the boxing world and beyond.

Fury won the fight on a split decision after one judge gave Ngannou 95-94, while Fury was given 96-93 and 95-95 respectively.

The win means Fury's unbeaten record remains intact.

Fury was knocked down in round three
Fury was knocked down in round three. Picture: Getty

Fury's win has not gone down without controversy, with a number of commentators suggesting Ngannou should have been given the victory.

MMA legend Nate Diaz posted on X/Twitter: "Tyson fury lost and the boxing commentary biased...they need to learn how to box."

Gary Lineker also waded into the result, posting online: "We've just seen a robbery."

NBA star LeBron James said: "Exactly why I don't watch boxing! C'mon man!"

Others were content with the result, including boxing legend Lennox Lewis, though he did praise Ngannou's performance.

Speaking after his controversial loss, Ngannou said he was "ready to take over" as he teased a return to boxing.

"I'm feeling great. I'm very happy. It didn't go my way. I want to thank Riyadh Season for giving me the opportunity to prove people wrong once again. I might be wounded, but I can bite," he told TNT Sports.

"I'm ready to fight any time soon. We can run it back again and I'm sure I'll get better. This is my first boxing match, I'm not using it as an excuse. At first, I was nervous, this new sport. Now I know I can do it."

Meanwhile, heavyweight boxing champion Fury gave props to his opponent, admitting that he did not expect Ngannou to perform so well.

"That definitely wasn't in the script. Francis is a hell of a fighter, a strong, great puncher," he said.

"He's a very awkward man, a great puncher and I respect him a lot. He wasn't coming forward, he was standing back and waiting for me. He's given me probably my toughest fight in 10 years."

Fury struggled against Ngannou at times
Fury struggled against Ngannou at times. Picture: Getty

Many doubted whether Ngannou would be able to compete given that it was his first boxing match, and given that he has not fought in a professional bout since January 2022.

It was also Fury's first fight in 11 months.

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It is considered to have been the biggest combat sports crossover since Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

Fury had been expected to fight again before the end of the year, with a long-awaited bout against Oleksandr Usyk rumoured to be taking place in December.

Cristiano Ronaldo looks on from ringside prior to the Heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou at Boulevard Hall
Cristiano Ronaldo looks on from ringside prior to the Heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou at Boulevard Hall. Picture: Getty

Neither party would confirm the fight tonight.

Tonight's bout between Fury and Ngannou took place in front of a star-studded crowd, which included Cristiano Ronaldo, Mike Tyson and UFC fighters Israel Adesanya and Kamaru Usman.

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