Tyson Fury is not overlooking Francis Ngannou, despite having his next fight planned.
On Saturday, Fury faces Ngannou in their long-awaited crossover boxing match in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But despite the fact that the fight still hasn’t happened, that didn’t stop Fury and his team from announcing he will face Oleksandr Usyk in either December or January, a bout to determine boxing’s undisputed heavyweight champion.
For some, the announcement came off as disrespectful to Ngannou. And Fury agrees, saying he didn’t make the decision.
“It wasn’t my choice,” Fury said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “I would never in a million years do that. But the people who are putting these fights on, who are paying the money, they’re in control. They’re the promoters of the event. So the paymaster does what the paymaster wants, basically. But if it was up to me, I would have never, ever, ever done that. Ever. Because I never count chickens before they hatch. Ever.
“I wasn’t happy at first, for them to announce it, but there was a lot going on in the background. For me, I don’t concentrate on any other fight other than Saturday night. What happens in the future stays in the future. I’m living for today and this moment. My moment now is to fight Francis for the baddest man on the planet title, and when I’ve won that, only after I’ve won that — I won’t even think about my next until I’ve had a week off and spent some time with my family. I’ve been in camp 12 weeks — I’ll think about what’s happening next.”
While pre-booking another fight may be disrespectful, Fury has some reason to feel confident in the outcome. The WBC heavyweight champion is a massive -1400 betting favorite according to DraftKings (with an implied win probability of 93 percent). A vast majority of analysts predict he will have an easy time with the boxing debutant.
But Fury insists that he can’t let things like that get into his head before the fight.
“You can’t listen to the betting odds, you can’t listen to what the pundits say, or what the boxing people or anybody, because they’re not in there on the night,” Fury said. “And if you start listening to people who are not boxing, then that’s the time you fail. I don’t take anybody lightly. I’ve seen so many times in the sport where people fight people they’re supposed to beat, and they’re always looking at the bigger picture.
“I’ll use Anthony Joshua as an example. Anthony Joshua, there was always talk of him fighting me or Wilder. … He fights Andy Ruiz on two weeks’ notice and he ends up getting knocked out. The odds going in were astronomical, everybody thought he was going to smoke the guy, all the boxing experts, all the pundits, all the media, everybody. … And what happens? He gets knocked spark out. Then he goes home crying in defeat.
“I never, ever do that. If I was fighting somebody in a local bar, and I knew I had to fight the guy in six weeks, guy not even from a combat sport, I would train hard, because you never know what the guy is going to bring. Never mind someone from a bar, I’m fighting an absolute killer in Francis Ngannou. A 6-4, 270-, 280-pound [guy] who has come from the streets.
“This guy is hungry. This guy has got a point to prove. You think I’m not going to train for him and come in at 400 pounds? I don’t think so. I’ve trained as hard for him as I did for any other fighter I’ve ever fought. At this level, you don’t get no second chances. Better to prepare for the hardest fight ever and it not be, than to prepare for an easy fight and it’s a war.”
So come Saturday, when he’s standing across the ring from Ngannou, Fury insists that any ideas about future fights with Usyk are out the window. It will just be him and “The Predator,” and he plans to do whatever it takes to maintain his undefeated streak – even if it throws off future plans.
“They should never announce fights before the first one happens, because that’s how people get knocked out,” Fury said. “But I’m not even looking at the next fight. I’m only concentrating on Francis. If it means breaking these two hands and getting a cut right through [my eyebrow] to win, I will do it. Don’t worry about that. Nothing else matters, only Saturday night.”