Francis Ngannou left the UFC in search of bigger fights and bigger pay days and he appears to have found both. According to reports he is set to box Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia on October 28th.

If confirmed it would be the biggest crossover fight involving a boxer and a mixed martial artist since Conor McGregor fought Floyd Mayweather. Ngannou will be taking on a world champion on his boxing debut just like the Irishman did in 2017.

The big difference is that McGregor was able to secure a lucrative fight with Mayweather while still under contract to the UFC. Meanwhile Ngannou walked away from the promotion and entered free agency in order to do the deal with Fury.

Heavyweight champion

Ngannou has signed a deal to compete with the PFL under MMA rules, although this appears to be separate. He has a record of 17-3 and was the UFC heavyweight champion when his contract with the promotion expired.

But what Ngannou does not have is experience of boxing. He will be taking on the best heavyweight on the planet, Fury is the reigning WBC heavyweight champion and has never lost a fight.

The Englishman was last seen in Phuket at Fight Circus 7. Fury has been involved in negotiations with prospective opponent Oleksandr Usyk for the best part of a year and Saudi Arabia was reportedly in contention to host that fight.


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Middle East

The fight will clearly be billed as a match between the best boxer on the planet and the best mixed martial artist. Assuming the bout is contested under the latter ruleset Fury will be a massive favourite.

The disparity in boxing experience between Mayweather and McGregor did not deter around 4 million North Americans from purchasing that pay per view. But while that fight took place in the combat sport Mecca of Las Vegas this is being held in the country where the actual Mecca is.

Fury was in Saudi Arabia recently to see his brother Tommy Fury beat Jake Paul. The country has invested heavily in sport, spending millions on acquiring tournaments, clubs and players.


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Smaller audience

So while there is no prospect of the fight selling as many pay per views as the one between McGregor and Mayweather did it is likely to be extremely lucrative for both men. Ngannou will definitely be looking at a career high pay day.

Tommy Fury and Jake Paul fought in the 15,000 capacity Diriyah Arena. The same venue hosted the rematch between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz in 2019.

It will be interesting to see whether it is deemed big enough for this fight. It is being billed as an exhibition, meaning that Fury’s heavyweight title won’t be on the line, but all eyes will be on Sauda Arabia on October 28th.