Tyson Fury made over $60 million to fight Francis Ngannou on Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, so in no way did he come out of that fight a loser, no matter how poorly the WBC/lineal heavyweight champion performed.
Fury fought more like the 2013 version of himself, when he struggled for much of the fight against Steve Cunningham and was dropped early, than the guy who in recent years scored a pair of knockouts of Deontay Wilder and skyrocketed on all the various pound-for-pound lists.
Fury insists he trained hard for Ngannou, despite weighing a career-high-tying 277 pounds and having precious little output. To win a split decision over a fighter making his professional boxing debut was an embarrassment for both Fury and the sport. Ngannou fought magnificently under the circumstances and deserves all the praise that he’s received. But if you’re not only the heavyweight champion but also one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, you have to make short work of a guy like that.
Clearly, Fury wasn’t properly prepared and didn’t have great motivation. And when Ngannou showed better than expected skills and the power that MMA people had warned Fury about, he didn’t adjust well.
That’s going to cost him in the Yahoo Sports’ rankings. I had him No. 7 previously and considered dropping him altogether. At the end, I decided to put him in 10th. I moved Artur Beterbiev up from No. 9 to 8, Dmitry Bivol from No. 8 to 7, dropped Fury from No. 7 to 10 and inserted undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney at 9. That cost former unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. his spot at 10.
The bigger concern for Fury, whose next fight will be for the undisputed heavyweight title against Oleksandr Usyk, probably in 2024, is not that he overlooked Ngannou. Rather, it’s that at 35 and after a lengthy career and a hard life, he’s gotten, as boxing elders often say, old overnight.
If that’s the case, he’s got more serious issues than dropping out of a pound-for-pound list that’s simply a conversation-starter. Though, even if that is the case, the $100 million-plus payday he’s likely to make for facing Usyk will salve a lot of wounds.
Boxing pound-for-pound rankings as of Nov. 1
1. Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs), Undisputed welterweight champion. Previous Ranking: 1.
2. Naoya Inoue (25-0, 22 KOs), WBC-WBO super bantamweight champion. Previous Ranking: 2.
3. Oleksandr Usyk (20-0, 13 KOs), IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 3.
4. Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs), Undisputed super middleweight champion. Previous Ranking: 4.
5. Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs), Lightweight contender. Previous Ranking: 5.
6. Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) Secondary WBA lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: 6.
7. Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), WBA light heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 8.
8. Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs), IBF-WBC-WBO light heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 9.
9. Devin Haney (30-0, 15 KOs), Undisputed lightweight champion. Previous Ranking: NR.
10. Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KOs), WBC heavyweight champion. Previous Ranking: 7.