By Vincent Morin
The most social event of the year takes place Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the gala featuring WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury taking on former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) king ), Francis N’Gannou.
The latter surprised the world by sending Fury to the mat in the third round before escaping a controversial split decision, after 10 attacks much more hotly contested than the majority of experts had anticipated.
The judges handed out cards of 96-93 Fury (Juan Carlos Pelayo), 95-94 Fury (Alan Krebs) and 95-94 N'Gannou (Ed Garner). The referee for this clash was Montrealer Michael Griffin.
After 20 mixed martial arts clashes (17-3 record), N'Gannou (0-1, 0 KO) made his professional boxing debut.
The WBC world title held by Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO) was not at stake in this duel, even if a commemorative belt was created by the WBC especially for this face-to-face.
The Briton saw this fight as preparation for a title unification in Riyadh, on December 23, against the Ukrainian and IBF, WBA and WBO world champion Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KO).
It will be interesting to know what happens next after the tough evening experienced by the “Gypsy King” in what should have been a formality, according to the vast majority of journalists and members of the boxing community.
Makhmudov expeditious, Kean defeated
Two heavyweight fighters from Quebec were also in action in Riyadh. The adopted Montrealer Arslanbek Makhmudov faced the American Junior Anthony Wright, while the Trois-Rivières Simon Kean crossed paths with the New Zealander Joseph Parker.
Makhmudov (18-0, 17 KO) needed just 70 seconds to defend his NABF and WBA Inter-Continental heavyweight titles against Wright (20-5-1, 17 KO), sending his rival to the mat with a solid left hook before seeing referee Steve Gray stop the unequal duel.
In the case of Kean (23-2, 22 KO), he had a big challenge against Parker (33-3, 23 KO), ex-WBO world champion. Competitive during most of the clash, the Quebecer was struck down by a precise uppercut and had to admit defeat at 2:04 of the third round.