Francis Ngannou has effectively silenced skeptics, including Dana White, who doubted his move from the UFC to the PFL and his decision to face WBC heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury in a lucrative 10-round bout. Ngannou’s fight against Fury, in which he knocked down a somewhat out-of-shape Fury in round three but ultimately suffered a disputed split-decision loss, has not only altered the landscape of combat sports but has significantly enhanced Ngannou’s reputation and earning potential.
At 37 years old, Ngannou has become a marquee name in the heavyweight division, attracting leading heavyweights eager to face him and secure substantial payouts, while aiming to avoid the embarrassment Fury faced. Fantasy matchups like Ngannou versus Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Zhelei Zhang, and unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk are now openly discussed in the wake of Ngannou’s showdown with Fury.
Predicting Ngannou’s next move has become a thrilling yet dizzying exercise, with numerous possibilities that would have seemed far-fetched not long ago. Meanwhile, Tyson Fury’s plans, initially set for a December undisputed title fight against Oleksandr Usyk, have been thrown into uncertainty due to Ngannou’s unexpected performance.
The article highlights a recurring issue in the heavyweight division, where promising matchups have been repeatedly delayed or unrealized. Despite a signed agreement for Fury vs. Usyk, there remains a lingering apprehension among boxing fans that the fight might not come to fruition, a scenario all too familiar in the world of boxing.
The writer emphasizes that while Fury vs. Usyk and Joshua vs. Wilder may still happen in the first half of 2024, both fights involve fighters in their mid-thirties, potentially past their prime. This raises the question of whether the outcome of these bouts would truly determine the superior fighter, considering the potential influence of age on their performance.
The article delves into the missed opportunities and prolonged negotiations between Wilder and Joshua, who were both undefeated and held all major belts. The inability to secure their much-anticipated showdown earlier in their careers is viewed as a significant disappointment for the sport.
The piece also points out how various fighters in the heavyweight division have faced setbacks and complications, further delaying pivotal matchups. Whether due to contractual disputes, failed drug tests, or scheduling conflicts, the momentum of the heavyweight division has suffered.
In conclusion, the article reflects on the hope for thrilling, dramatic encounters in the heavyweight division in 2024. However, it laments that these matchups may occur months or even years after they should have taken place, potentially diminishing their impact due to wear and tear on the fighters involved. The author ultimately asserts that while the fights may be exciting, the heavyweight division has missed opportunities for a true golden era.