Boxing legend Mike Tyson was brought in to help Francis Ngannou before his bout with Tyson Fury. There was a fair bit of skepticism about Tyson’s role in the Ngannou camp before the fight, with a video of Ngannou doing an open workout under Iron Mike’s tutelage coming in for particular mockery.
There was even a little bit of controversy about renowned boxing coach Teddy Atlas having been pushed aside to make room for Tyson in Ngannou’s camp with Atlas commenting, “you made that deal with Tyson and you’re asking me to go out to Vegas to do a trial… Why don’t you be upfront with me? It just doesn’t feel good.”
There was also some speculation about the role of Saudi money in paying Tyson to train Ngannou as part of the Kingdom’s “sports washing” effort to hype the fight.
But after Francis Ngannou shocked the world by knocking down Tyson Fury in the third round and lost by a narrow split decision, the critics have been silenced.
Mike Tyson heaps praise on Francis Ngannou
Maybe Mike Tyson really was the secret sauce. He is a legend for a reason after all.
In a recent episode of his ‘Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson’ podcast, the former heavyweight boxing champion was effusive in his praise of Ngannou and his ability to follow instruction.
“I was really proud of Francis Ngannou because he listened to everything I said,” Tyson explained (transcript via MMA Junkie) “And I was telling everybody about the great left hook that he landed on his sparring partner and actually broke his leg, and I knew if he landed that left hook on anybody they were gone – and I was right. The champ went down. I’m happy. I’m very grateful to be involved with his glory, his victory. I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of Mr. Francis.”
Suddenly everyone is amazed at Ngannou’s performance and potential as the hottest 37-year-old rookie in boxing history, but there are still some voices urging caution and reminding us punters that reality has a nasty way of biting back after the fairy tale is over.
Daniel Cormier doesn’t see the MMA side of Ngannou’s options
Since his career-making pro-boxing debut Ngannou talked a fair bit about possibilities for his next fight, including a return to the PFL in 2024.
If that’s the ‘Predator”s plan, however, former UFC champion Daniel Cormier doesn’t seem to see a realistic option for the champ.
“Honestly, Ryan [Bader] would not fight Francis, right,” Cormier said in a recent interview with MMA Fighting. “Because we’ve seen Ryan in there with big punchers and when he fights the big punchers, he gets nervous, he takes bad shots and he puts himself in bad positions.
“I wouldn’t want to see that but that would honestly be the biggest fight they could make for him. Biggest fight would be like Ryan Bader or if they try to make him fight Fedor [Emelianenko], which I would not want to see because Fedor should not be fighting.”
“There just isn’t the name value to stand alongside him right now outside of boxing,” Cormier said. “[But] when you make the money he made, he can sit around for a while.”