Eddie Hearn claimed Tyson Fury’s performance against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou showed that Anthony Joshua would “knock Fury out inside six rounds” if the British heavyweight rivals were to ever meet in the ring.
Fury survived a knockdown and avoided the first loss of his professional career when he was named a split-decision winner against Ngannou in Saudi Arabia. Ngannou, was making his boxing debut yet outfought Fury for much of the bout, as a stunned audience looked on.
The 37-year-old former UFC champion was a massive underdog but produced a superb performance with immense discipline and aggression, and many figures in the world of boxing declared that the “Predator” had been denied a rightful win.
After the fight, Oleksandr Usyk entered the ring to face off with Fury, whom he is contracted to fight next. Ukrainian Usyk, unbeaten like Fury, holds the unified heavyweight boxing titles. The pair have been rumoured to clash in Riyadh on 23 December, though Fury and his promoter Frank Warren played coy after the fight with Ngannou.
But Hearn, who promotes Joshua, believes that is not the fight the boxing world wants to see after Fury’s performance against Ngannou.
“I’m absolutely lost for words,” the Matchroom boss said. “I mean Francis Ngannou has never boxed before. Fair play to him, he didn’t look overly impressive, but Tyson Fury looked like he’s never laced up a pair of gloves before.
“Got dropped in the third round, never threw a punch. Ngannou never threw a punch after. I thought Ngannou won by two rounds. The boxing world has gone mad.
“Forget Fury vs Usyk - no one is interested. Just give us Fury vs AH. AJ will knock Tyson Fury out inside six rounds. Make the fight or we will never get it.
“Or, rematch Ngannou, because the guy deserves it. I still don’t know what Tyson Fury was doing.”
Fury said afterwards that he was rusty on what was his first fight in 10 months but declared it to be a “perfect” night ahead of his heavyweight showdown with Usyk.
“That definitely wasn’t in the script,” said Fury. “[Ngannou] is a lot better of a boxer than we thought he’d be. He’s a very awkward man, and he’s a good puncher, and I respect him a lot. He was very awkward, he wasn’t coming forward; he was waiting for me to throw my punches then looking to counter.
“[The knockdown] is a part of boxing. I got caught behind the head. I got up and it was alright; I got back to my boxing.
“I don’t know how close [the fight] was, but I got the win and that’s what it is. I’ve been out of the ring a long time again. You can see it in here – ring rust, everything. No excuses, though. He’s cut me across the eye there. It was a good, rough fight. Perfect.”