The heavyweight boxing match between Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury definitely didn’t play out as planned. The mixed martial artist scored the only knockdown of the fight and was very unfortunate to lose by split decision.

The first round contained few surprises with Fury starting to find a home for his jab and following up with a solid right in the closing stages.

Both men were switching stance in a close second round. Ngannou landed a left hook at the start of the third and then came the moment that stunned the Saudi Arabia crowd.

Left hand

With Fury looking to feint before stepping in with straight punches Ngannou landed a clubbing left hand. It dropped the Englishman and, judging from the look in his eyes, hurt him badly.

Fury has been dropped before and was soon back on his feet. Ngannou looked full of confidence at the start of the fourth but his opponent used all his experience to maintain his distance while landing jabs and crosses.

Ngannou probably realized he wasn’t winning many rounds and came out swinging in the fifth. He clearly believed he could finish Fury but the boxer was too smart to make the same mistake twice and preferred to pick him off from range.

Bolstered reputation

Ngannou started to enjoy more success in the seventh and the crowd thought he had dropped Fury again when the boxer went down with both men looking to work on the inside but it was ruled a slip.

The eighth was all Ngannou as he picked up the pace and outlanded Fury with several more left hands getting through. Fury established his jab again in the ninth as the former UFC heavyweight champion’s output slowed.

With a knockdown to his name Ngannou knew that one more round in the books might be enough. The traded jabs in the final three minutes while the mixed martial artist appeared to attempt a superman punch.

It was Fury who would take the win with two of three judges scoring the fight in his favour. It could not have been much closer with two of the cards reading 96-93, 95-94 for the Englishman while the other was 95-94 for Ngannou.

But while it was Fury who emerged with the win Ngannou was the only one who could feel that his reputation had been bolstered by the performance. He pushed the self proclaimed best heavyweight on the planet all the way and fared much better than many boxing world champions have against him.