'Lights Out' and ‘AJ’ Might Make Interesting Ngannou Foils

‘Lights Out’ and ‘AJ’ May Make Attention-grabbing Ngannou Foils

Francis Ngannou won’t be a heavyweight boxing champion.

I assure it.

However, the 6-foot-4, 258-pounder turned the subsequent large factor within the ring – a minimum of for novelty functions – when his chief MMA nemesis, Dana White, went public with the story that he’d been relieved of his UFC championship and launched from any contractual ties to the conglomerate.

Inside moments, the recommendations began flying as to what the 36-year-old may do subsequent, whether or not it’s remaining within the MMA world with the Bellator or PFL promotions, investigating the hybrid boxing area with the Naked-Knuckle Combating Championship or going all-in with a regulation set of 10-ounce gloves.

He’s received 17 of 20 professional MMA fights with 12 KOs and his look at Wembley Stadium alongside Tyson Fury final spring – to not point out their occasional backwards and forwards on social media – has created the potential for a sport vs. sport showdown with boxing’s most recognizable heavyweight king.

However whereas Fury stays the gold customary of would-be opponents, there are others.

Given Ngannou’s hard-to-dispute standing because the A-side in any matchup he chooses and his standing as a money cow, he’s definitely not going to threat getting embarrassed in a battle towards any opponent – irrespective of how succesful and deserving – that just about nobody past the hardcore set has heard of.

In different phrases, for these championing the likes of Otto Wallin, Dillian Whyte, Lucas Browne or Zhelei Zhang for a highlight flip beneath the large prime, don’t maintain your breath. 

Seeing how we’re dwelling in a Jake Paul world lately, why not compromise?

So as a substitute of anticipating Ngannou to threat his mojo towards an opponent with the flexibility to truly beat him, or on the very least make him look unhealthy, the preliminary suggestion here’s a little completely different.

Stealing a web page from Paul, how about calling on somebody recognizable to the boxing-familiar lots, however maybe not possessing the ferocity of an able-bodied stand-in in his 20s, 30s… and even 40s.

How about James Toney?

He’s a Corridor of Famer lately for good motive following a protracted profession during which he racked up 90 fights, 77 wins, 47 KOs and world titles at three weights – 160, 168 and 190 kilos – to not point out a heavyweight title declare that was snuffed out by a drug take a look at following a 2005 defeat of John Ruiz.

He’s 54 years outdated lately, final fought in 2017 – KO’ing one Mike Sheppard, then 41, in six rounds – and stepped into the Octagon himself for an ill-fated bout with Randy Couture at UFC 118 in 2010, which went lower than a spherical earlier than Toney tapped out to an arm-triangle choke.  

Is he prone to defeat an energetic, profitable fight sports activities champion like Ngannou? In no way.

However he was intelligent, expert and had sufficient pop to repeatedly flummox guys considerably bigger than him and he was by no means missing for the type of confidence to imagine he may handle a hoop novice.

Even an enormous one.

“I may see Toney doing it,” Randy Gordon, a SiriusXM radio host who’s additionally a former chairman of the New York State Athletic Fee and editor of Ring Journal, advised Boxing Scene.

“Ought to (Ngannou) begin on the prime? That’s open to debate.”

Certainly one of Toney’s multi-division contemporaries, ex-light heavyweight and cruiserweight title claimant Antonio Tarver – who most lately fought at 217 kilos in 2015 – turned down the proposition in favor of constant to steer the profession of his son, Antonio Jr., who acquired his professional mark to 11-0 on Saturday.

The youthful Tarver, who’s 35, has fought from junior middleweight to tremendous middleweight.

“Let’s get Jr.,” Tarver Sr. advised Boxing Scene. “It’s his time now.”

In fact, there’s a robust risk that Ngannou isn’t within the temper for potential elder abuse.

Which leaves the choice of buying boxing’s dented-can aisle for an ex-heavyweight champ.

Anthony Joshua’s 9 title-fight wins throughout two belted reigns nonetheless place him nicely previous the game’s flotsam and jetsam, but it surely’s no much less true that consecutive losses to Oleksandr Usyk point out he’s one thing lower than the supernova some hype males claimed because the wave crested in 2017.

“That is the real article, a reputable world heavyweight boxing champion who can attraction a mainstream viewers in a manner not seen for a technology,” stated editor Eoin Connolly, whose SportsPro journal labeled a then-unbeaten 27-year-old the world’s most marketable athlete. “He’s proved this within the UK and now has an opportunity to do it all over the world within the years forward. Followers are flocking to him, manufacturers are flocking to him, and that solely appears set to proceed.”

He carried that label for 3 fights earlier than getting flattened by Andy Ruiz in his U.S. debut in June 2019, defeated Ruiz in a return bout six months later and defended as soon as extra versus Kubrat Pulev earlier than Usyk upended plans for Joshua’s Tyson Fury bout with two straight medical wins.

He is recalibrating his place within the ring spectrum, lately. And, in line with chief hype man Eddie Hearn, a bout with Ngannou may soothe the damage of a dinged-up spirit.

“I believe AJ is all in regards to the greatest fights and the largest challenges,” Hearn advised DAZN. 

“I believe AJ has acquired his thoughts on turning into a three-time world champion, however a battle towards Francis Ngannou is fascinating.”

Ngannou apparently agrees.

He talked about Joshua by title when discussing his would-be boxing choices and there is not any doubt it might be compelling to see Joshua, who’s a sculpted 6-foot-6 and usually weighs round 240, throughout a hoop from a fearsome predator.

The Englishman was dropped 4 occasions by Ruiz of their first matchup and repeatedly rattled by Usyk –

neither a KO artist – however might need to show he’s acquired the mettle to face and commerce with a much less skilled however certifiably harmful foe. 

Or would he play the matador to Ngannou’s bull and lean on an 82-inch attain because the decisive issue, as he did within the Ruiz rematch?

Signal us as much as be first in line to observe.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:  


IBF/WBC/WBO gentle heavyweight titles – London, United Kingdom

Artur Beterbiev (champion/No. 1 IWBR) vs. Anthony Yarde (No. 1 WBO/No. 15 IWBR)

Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KO): Seventh IBF title protection; Seven KOs in seven title fights (52 complete rounds)

Yarde (23-2, 22 KO): Second title battle (0-1); Misplaced WBO title shot (TKO 11) in 2019

Fitzbitz says: Yarde is an enormous, robust contender who’s deserving of a spot on the world stage however he’s manner over his head in relation to Beterbiev, who has large fights on his agenda. Beterbiev in 8 (95/5)

WBA flyweight title – London, United Kingdom

Artem Dalakian (champion/No. 7 IWBR) vs. David Jimenez (No. 1 WBA/No. 35 IWBR)

Dalakian (21-0, 15 KO): Sixth title protection; 4 KOs in six title fights

Jimenez (12-0, 9 KO): First title battle; Combating in fourth nation (Costa Rica, Panama, United States)

Fitzbitz says: You needn’t imagine Dalakian is a world-beater should you don’t need to, however he must have sufficient in a rugged toolbox to deal with a comparably untested challenger. Dalakian in 10 (95/5)

Final week’s picks: None

2023 picks report: 0-1 (0.0 %)

2022 picks report: 41-16 (71.9 %)  

General picks report: 1,250-409 (75.3 %)  

NOTE: Fights previewed are solely these involving a sanctioning physique’s full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, and many others. Fights for WBA “world championships” are solely included if no “tremendous champion” exists within the weight class.  

Lyle Fitzsimmons has lined skilled boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He’s a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Affiliation of America. Attain him at fitzbitz@msn.com or comply with him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.  

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