Tyson Fury probably didn’t expect to find himself facing a debutant at this stage of his career. But the WBC heavyweight champion has plenty if respect for Francis Ngannou ahead of their fight in Saudi Arabia.

The two went head to head for the first time in London yesterday. Standing at 6’9″ Fury was always going to be the bigger man but he sounded surprised by the size of the former UFC heavyweight champion,

“I will give Francis the respect that he deserves as a warrior, as a man and as a world champion. He’s a big man. He’s very strong and powerful.”

Different style

Fans might question Ngannou’s boxing credentials. He has literally no previous experience in the sport but Fury thinks that the mixed martial artist could pose him some problems,

“I’m absolutely honored to be fighting Francis.  He’s going to be a very, very good fighting man. You can see that he’s massive. He’s in shape. He’s going to be a real challenge. It’s something different for me. I’m used to boxing boxers and boxing the head off of somebody. But fighting an MMA guy who comes in with a different style is going to be different.”

American audience

The blueprint for matching a boxer with a mixed martial artist was set by Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor. That fight generated huge global interest and revenue with promoters hoping that this heavyweight bout can reach similar levels of success.

That fight took place in Las Vegas. While Fury and Ngannou are set to face off in Riyadh promoter Bob Arum thinks that won’t deter fans in the US from tuning in,

“This is a massive event around the world, but it’s particularly massive in the United States because MMA has become one of the most popular sports there and Francis Ngannou is a legend in that sport. And Tyson has performed so admirably in the United States over the past few years that he is a massive figure in sports. The fact that they’re both coming together is something that is creating tremendous interest in the United States.”

Biggest payday 

This will be Ngannou’s first fight since leaving the UFC. He is reportedly guaranteed to receive a purse of $10 million USD which would be by far the biggest payday of the Cameroonian’s career.

The odds are attacked against him. But there is a life changing amount of money on the table for Ngannou who is aware of the significance of fighting in Saudi Arabia on this date,

This is not just a fight. We are going to open up Riyadh Season. So, it is a cultural event that we are fighting on. And we’ll just make this fight bigger and bigger.

The fight is set for October 28th in Riyadh. Fury will come into it as a massive favourite but with so much money on the table it looks set to be a big financial win for both men.