Crossover season continues tomorrow night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury gives former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou the chance to rule in just his first ever boxing match. However, the full WBC title will not be on the line, a commemorative WBC Riyadh Champion belt will take its place.
ProBox TV spoke exclusively with WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán in Riyadh to get his view on the upcoming fantasy fight.
“I’m very happy, very excited to be here in Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh for the unbelievable event”Sulaimán said. “This is out of this world. Absolutely, to see great efforts, to dignify boxing in this area of the world, where many other sports have come and made a big splash; football, golf, and now to see boxing shining, we all have to celebrate it, support it, and make the best out of it. I think it’s going to be an event that will be talked about for generations to come, in reference to The Battle of The Baddest, just as we talk about The Thrilla in Manila, and The Rumble in The Jungle. It’s gonna be a great event.
“My father has Arab blood. My grandfather was Lebanese, my grandmother [was] Syrian, my father spoke Arabic, and we eat [the] food. My wife is Syrian/Lebanese as well, so we have had, since I can remember, a great influence from my grandparents, my father, and my father dreamt always to see boxing in the Middle East. It was his big dream, and he is smiling down to see that it’s finally a reality.”
Both men come to the ring with incredible stories. Fury bounced back from retirement, depression and weight issues to reclaim his place at the top of the heavyweight division. Ngannou’s story is one of clawing himself out of poverty in his native Cameroon to become an MMA champion, eventually walking away from the UFC to secure an insanely lucrative deal to fight Fury.
“It’s a great story, it’s an inspiration to anyone.” Sulaimán explained regarding Fury. “Not only in boxing, and also from someone who falls down, and needs to regroup and redo their whole life [again]. He was on the verge of suicide, he had serious mental health problems, he had addictions, he was overweight, and from that moment his life changed completely, so it’s a great inspiration. We all make mistakes, it’s just the severity of the mistakes and the time where you realise that you can come back and change your life for the good. So, he’s a great example. I'm very proud of Tyson Fury. He’s building his legacy, we will see where he goes! He’s at the top of the top, and on top of the world.
“Ngannou is another great example of determination, resilience. We are all about inclusion. He’s an athlete, very respectful and hardworking. It’s going to be a tremendous fight, and we welcome him into the boxing world. The WBC has open arms for him. I’ve been talking to Mike [Tyson], he’s very impressed with the punching power [of Francis Ngannou], that’s the coin he has for exchange, so we will see what happens.”
Apparently Fury Vs Oleksandr Usyk is all set for December 23 in the same location as tomorrow’s bout. Unless Ngannou pulls off the biggest upset boxing has ever seen.
“I have no doubt in my mind.” Sulaimán answered if an undisputed heavyweight world title fight will go ahead a s planned. “The WBC champion [Tyson Fury] is the best heavyweight champion in the world. I love Usyk, he’s a tremendous friend, former WBC cruiserweight [world champion], but he’s a dear friend. He’s carrying a whole country on his back with inspiration, so that’s going to be an unbelievable event, but we cannot get past Saturday. First this, and then hopefully the undisputed.”