Zhilei Zhang, the Chinese heavyweight contender, was one of the many who was unimpressed by the performance put forth by Tyson Fury against Francis Ngannou. The bout which occurred over the course of ten rounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for mega-millions made Fury look as though he took Ngannou lightly only to be floored in the third round and win a close split decision against a man he was supposed to outclass. This marks essentially the first time a fighter coming from MMA has had any success at the highest level of boxing without
The general feeling was frustration as some boxing fans even felt heart as vocal MMA fans took to social media to be immature as social media platforms often encourage. Zhang, who spoke to BoxingNews.com and gave the following statements via Zoom was underwhelmed.
"To be honest with you, [I thought] Francis Ngannou [won]," said Zhang to BoxingNews via a translator. "If you count that knockdown it is a ten-eight round. Then throughout the whole fight, he was landing more power shots, and he was being more aggressive. Fury didn't throw a lot of punches for some reason. He was holding himself back and controlling the distance with his jab."
After Ngannou scored a shocking knockdown of Fury in the third round it seemed as though the court of public opinion had cast its ballot right then and there. Even if Fury had 'outpointed' Ngannou, he was dropped by someone whom Fury was expected to outclass. Perception is reality, and the perception was that Ngannou landed the more meaningful shots.
"It is a night of shame for the sport of boxing," said Zhang. "I believe only Tyson Fury and his camp know what happened from his underperformance. Maybe an underestimation of his opponent. In my opinion, [it was from] his lack of training."
As MMA pundits became notable names trolling the boxing world belittling the craft of the sport by seeing a relative novice be able to compete against one of the best modern heavyweights, it is clear Zhang was frustrated with what he was seeing.
"To be honest, I think it is bad for boxing," said Zhang.
Zhang this year has stopped Joe Joyce twice, with his second stoppage being a brutal one-punch KO. Zhang is now awaiting a 'big fight' or world title shot in a heavyweight division that is as boring as has ever been. Fury will more than likely only fight once in 2023 and it was an exhibition-like fight that he didn't perform well in, and Oleksandr Usyk has only fought once as well. Those two fighters combined for two fights and they hold all four belts.
It is important to note that before this fight it was announced that Fury versus Usyk would happen in Saudi Arabia on December 23rd, but now that seems unclear. Zhang seemingly is even more frustrated as he wants his chance at a big fight.