If a fight between former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou and boxing’s heavyweight king Tyson Fury materializes, you can bet Oscar De La Hoya will tune in.
During an appearance on The MMA Hour, De La Hoya was asked for his thoughts on Ngannou potentially booking a fight against “The Gypsy King,” a possibility that has been in play since the two met face-to-face in the ring in London following Fury’s win over Dillian Whyte. It’s a possibility that has become more distinct with Ngannou now an unrestricted free agent after recently parting ways with the UFC.
De La Hoya loves the idea, even though he doubts either man would fare well if forced to compete primarily in the other’s field.
“Fighters like [Ngannou], I think he can hang in there for a few rounds,” De La Hoya said. “If it’s a boxing ring, he obviously can hang in there for a few rounds, but Tyson Fury is a guy who grew up boxing. That was his thing and that’s his sport. Huge advantage for Fury. Obviously, if it was in a cage it would be a whole different story. [Ngannou] would tap him out or whatever, kick him and knock him out in 30 seconds. Totally different sports.
“But I think it will be great for both sports. I think it will be great for boxing because it will be a huge fight. It will be a mega event like when [Mike] Tyson was fighting. You had all that hype behind these big events and fights. It would be that big.”
Crossover boxing bouts, though rare, have consistently done well, with UFC star Conor McGregor’s August 2017 clash with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. standing as a prime example. The once-in-a-lifetime matchup generated enormous buzz and delivered at the box office, clearing the 4 million pay-per-view buys mark. More recently, YouTube star Jake Paul has kicked off a fighting career by boxing MMA stars like Anderson Silva, Tyron Woodley, and Ben Askren.
De La Hoya dipped his toes in the MMA waters in 2018 with an event headlined a trilogy bout between Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell, and though his Golden Boy Promotions has stuck to boxing since, he looks forward to working with cage-fighters again in the future.
“I would love to speak to [Ngannou],” De La Hoya said. “Any fighter who is an MMA fighter, I’m here, I would love to speak to anybody. I would love to pick their brain, I would love to maybe sit down and discuss some business. I’m all for it. I think these fighters who are MMA fighters who have been with the UFC or are with the UFC, I would love to just talk from fighter to fighter and pick each other’s brains and see what happens.”
Ngannou isn’t the only former UFC star who could be strapping on a pair of boxing gloves soon. Since Nate Diaz fought out his UFC contract this past September, speculation has swirled around what is next for the fan-favorite fighter, whether that is signing with another MMA promotion or bringing his unique style to the squared circle.
If Diaz decides to box, he has a fan in De La Hoya.
“We are good with each other,” De La Hoya said. “I respect him like there’s no tomorrow. He’s real, he’s authentic, he’s as real as they get and he’s a fighter. He can fight. I would love to talk to him. There’s a lot of interesting possibilities with Nate Diaz — a possible Jake Paul fight for instance, which would be massive, which would be huge. There’s other fights that you can build up and promote but I would love to talk to him.”