By AJ Johnson
Tyson Fury nearly got beat, definitely got both shocked and embarrassed in Riyadh, but did just enough to beat Francis Ngannou by split decision over 10 rounds, having to get off the canvas in the third round.
One judge scored the bout 95-94 for Ngannou, while the other two had it 95-94 and 96-93 for Fury. Bleacher Brothers scored the fight 96-93 for Fury.
Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO) was dropped by a left hand in the third round, then seemed to wake up and get in the zone for several rounds after that, which wound up being enough to score him the victory, but in reality, the real winner here was Francis Ngannou, who put on an impressive display against a out of shape Fury who did not appear to take the fight seriously.
Ngannou, was making his pro debut, wasn’t reckless or foolish in his approach, and the bout was less about his brute force vs Fury’s boxing skills than it was a pretty typical-looking boxing match fought at some distance, with the danger that comes with heavyweights throwing punches.
Fury was not in his best shape —and appeared to skip all cardio workouts in training and it showed in the early rounds, he just did not look like Tyson Fury.
He only looked like the Tyson Fury we all know for a few round stretch in the middle of the bout, after he got dropped, and then late he seemed to be out of gas, cautious, and it would have been hard to argue if all the judges saw Ngannou’s as the winner.