In an unexpected turn of events, Saudi Arabia is gearing up for a colossal December 23 boxing night, and the spotlight is now on Francis Ngannou, who is set to take the center stage.
This development follows the postponement of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk’s highly anticipated showdown, originally scheduled for the same date.
The shift in the event’s lineup comes after Tyson Fury’s grueling encounter with Ngannou in October, resulting in a controversial win for Fury. Following the card, Fury sustained injuries that necessitate a more extended recovery period than initially anticipated. Consequently, the much-anticipated bout between Fury and Usyk will be postponed until February.
Some even speculated that Fury is contemplating retirement.
Despite this setback, the show must go on, and Francis Ngannou is poised to assume the role of headliner just before Christmas. An official announcement is on the horizon and is expected in the coming week, according to reports from BoxingNews.
Speculation abounds regarding potential opponents for the former UFC champion, with names like Zhilei Zhang and Joseph Parker being thrown into the mix. These prospective matchups promise an exciting night of boxing action.
Adding to the anticipation, Boxing News reports that Martin Bakole and Moses Itauma are likely to receive invitations to participate in the event. The Saudi organizers were impressed by their previous performances and powerful knockouts.
Notably, the original plan for the December 23 event included both Usyk and Fury, aligning with the midway point of the Riyadh season. Usyk’s promoter affirmed that Tyson Fury remains committed to this bout, and there is no escaping it.
As for Tyson Fury, despite visible bruising, he reassured his fans that he only sustained surface injuries. He attributed the physical toll to a minor head clash and some punches, emphasizing that there were no severe injuries. Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion from Morecambe, had reached an agreement to contest all the heavyweight belts, including the WBA, IBF, and WBO titles.
This news is especially surprising given contradicting reports about the PPV numbers for Fury vs Ngannou. While Ariel Helwani claimed the card did well, Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer detailed roughly 60,000 buts, 10,000 from TV and 50,000 from ESPN plus.