Francis Ngannou’s striking coach wholeheartedly believes he could outbox lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury, given enough time and preparation.
Last week, newly crowned UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou went on Mike Tyson’s Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson podcast where he spoke about his lifelong dream to compete as a professional boxer and his interest in fighting the baddest man in the sport right now, Tyson Fury. Earlier this week, Fury responded, calling Ngannou “easy work” that prompted Ngannou to fire back and now, as with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor five years ago, the foundation is being laid for a massive crossover superfight between the world of boxing and MMA.
Obviously at this point, that fight is nothing more than a pipe dream, but should it ever come to pass, Ngannou’s striking coach Dewey Cooper believes that Ngannou has the ability to beat Fury, he’d just need the right preparation.
“Tyson Fury, right now, is the best boxer in the world,” Cooper told RT Sport. “Tyson Fury is difficult for any heavyweight because of the attributes, the speed, the boxing ability, the good defense, the confidence, the swagger of Tyson Fury. Tyson’s a real one. Tyson’s a tough fight for anyone in boxing, but Francis definitely could fight any heavyweight, with time and amending the training a little bit.”
“He could definitely do it because Francis does have power, however, with a boxing glove the power will decrease a little bit compared to what it is with an MMA glove because an MMA glove is only four ounces when a boxing glove is 10 ounces. So that makes a difference, you know, a lot of little intangible things. But to answer your question, of course he can box and of course he could eventually beat someone like a Tyson Fury, for sure. It just, you need to go into a straight boxing format.”
While it’s easy to view Cooper’s statement as simply support for his fighter, Cooper is no novice to the sport of boxing. Though primarily a kickboxer in his own professional career, Cooper also had 25 professional boxing matches, compiling a record of 19-3-3. He also won multiple world titles as a trainer with the likes of Jessie Vargas and Beibut Shumenov. But given his extensive experience in the sport, Cooper also recognizes that Ngannou couldn’t simply wake up tomorrow and outbox Tyson Fury. Cooper says that the difference between boxing and MMA is considerable and and would require specialized work for Ngannou, specifically in the cardio department.
“A lot more anaerobic activity, stuff like that,” Cooper outlined as things that would needed to be worked on for a boxing match. “Because even though the MMA rounds are five minutes, people underestimate those three minute rounds. The pace is a hell of a lot faster and you have to do way more rounds. A championship MMA fight is 25 minutes, a championship boxing fight is 36 minutes, and let me tell you something, that 11 minutes makes a big ass difference when you’re not getting taken down, you can’t lay on the ground, you can’t go for submissions. It’s punching or tying up momentarily being broken and keep punching again. So the anaerobic aspect has to be on point too.
“A lot of people who do MMA think boxing is much easier until they box and they realize boxing is way tougher than what people think. More people die annually in boxing than any other fight sport. That should tell you something. Boxing is a very dangerous sport to be involved in.
“But to answer your question, he can do it. He can do it, it just has to be formatted in the right situation.”
For now, the fight will have to remain relegated to the world of wishful thinking. Fury is currently set to face Anthony Joshua in a two-fight series to unify boxing’s heavyweight titles. Though the date and venue have yet to be determined, both bouts are expected to take place in 2021. Ngannou, meanwhile, will likely defend his UFC heavyweight title this summer, either against Jon Jones, should the UFC come to terms, or in a rematch against Derrick Lewis. But when all that business gets taken care of, maybe then Ngannou will get a chance to pursue his childhood dream.
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