Top sportsmen including Manchester United legend, Gary Lineker and NBA superstar, LeBron James, have expressed their surprise after WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury claimed a controversial split decision victory over former UFC fighter Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia.
Ngannou put Fury on the canvas in round three after connecting with a left hook but while one judge scored it 95-94 in favour of the Cameroonian-French, two gave it to the Brit at 96-93 and 95-94.
The decision was met with boos around Boulevard Hall in Riyadh as it was announced that the UFC fighter had lost.
Fury’s WBC heavyweight belt was not on the line in the “Battle of the Baddest” in Riyadh. Still, Saudi officials hoped it would further boost the Gulf kingdom’s reputation as a top-flight boxing destination.
“That definitely wasn’t in the script,” Fury told TNT Sports after the fight.ALSO READ:Hermoso Returns To Spain Squad Since World Cup Final
“I got caught round the back of the head (for the knockdown). I wasn’t hurt. I got up and got back to my boxing. He’s an awkward man and a good puncher and I respect him a lot. He’s given me one of my toughest fights of the last 10 years.”
Ngannou who was making his debut in professional boxing says he is now confident in his skills.
“My training camp was only three and a half months and I came into this with an injury, but I don’t want to give excuses. I will look at what I can do next to improve my game to come back even better.
“Now I know I can do this, get ready. The wolf is in the house,” the 37-year-old said.
Following the fight, some sportsmen reacted to the judges’ decision shocked that Fury was announced as the winner.
Former England footballer Gary Lineker reacted to a BBC post on X that asked, ‘What have we just seen?’ by writing, “We’ve just seen a robbery.”
Four-time NBA champion LeBron James reacted to the result hinting that results like this are why he doesn’t watch the sport.
“Exactly why I don’t watch boxing! C’mon man!” James wrote on X.Technical Assistant to the NBF Babatunde Laguda told our correspondent that although he had previously touted Fury to win the bout, he now thinks Ngannou was the winner.
“Ngannou should have won. I earlier picked Fury to win but it seems he did not take the fight seriously and Francis sent him to the floor in the third round holding him for most of the fight.
“Ngannou seemed to be more aggressive but I guess te judges saw something we did not see, I am proud of Ngannou as I am sure most Africans are and I think he should have won that fight,” Laguda said.
Boxing promoter, Saleh Fawaz believes that it was a tight fight but is also of the opinion that Ngannou deserved to win.
“I think Ngannou deserved to win, but it was still a tight fight, it is impressive from Ngannou but it was a close fight, he was not the clear winner. It is one of those things where he was so much the underdog that the fans are saying that he should have won clearly.
“I don’t think Fury worked for this fight or took it seriously which is why Ngannou got close but I think he should have won,” Fawaz said.
International Boxing Association certified coach Abayomi Oyeleye said that he thinks Ngannou did enough to win and hopes the Cameroon-born athlete remains a pugilist.
“He floored Fury in round three, he did enough to win but to beat someone of that level that is already considered the champion without knocking him out would have been hard for an African man to do. It was very impressive and kudos to him on his first fight and hopefully, he stays in boxing for a while,” Oyeleye said.
There were more reactions on X from others who believed that Ngannou was cheated on the night.
2023 KIA NBA MVP Joel Embiid also believes that Ngannou was robbed writing on X, “NO F WAY FRANCIS GOT ROBBED.”
Nigerian writer and columnist, Japheth Omojuwa says that boxing lost writing, “Ngannou needed a KO. Boxing was never going to declare an undefeated boxer the loser against an MMA fighter making a novelty boxing debut via a decision. Pride was as much at stake for the fighters as it was for their sports. Tonight though, boxing lost!”
Female boxing fan, Karina with the username @cutieekarinaa wrote that the fight should have been a draw at least, “Francis rocked Fury many times and also got the knock down, deserves a draw at the very least.”
An MMA fan, @HomelanderMMA also mirrored their opinions saying that Ngannou was robbed, writing, “Boxing has just ROBBED Francis Ngannou in front of our faces. The Baddest man on the planet, I don’t care what anyone says.”
Written by: Kevin Nwabueze
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