We are almost one week removed from the moment everything we knew about boxing almost changed forever. If Francis Ngannou had beaten Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia last weekend, you’d be reading Five MMA Stories You Might Have Missed right now. That’s how this works, right?
But as it happens, thanks to a split decision victory for ‘The Gypsy King’, we are still here to update you on the sweet science. At least until Conor McGregor knocks out ‘Canelo’ or something.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the Five Boxing Stories You Might Have Missed. No Octagons included.
Frank Warren Confirms IBF Belt For Fury-Usyk
Queensberry chief Frank Warren has allayed fears that the eventual Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk clash will not be for the undisputed championship. After the Ngannou fight, it looks like the initial 23rd December date is no longer viable. With the IBF keen on giving long-term mandatory Filip Hrgovic his shot, it had been feared the sanctioning body would strip Usyk for not fighting him.
That will no longer be the case. Speaking to Boxing News, Warren said, “The Riyadh Season ends on March 2. It will go on by then, 100 per cent. It will be undisputed, all four belts. The IBF have given consent for that to happen.” With a rematch embedded within the contract, it is likely the winner will be stripped of the IBF title in the aftermath. But as long as the fight doesn’t go to a draw, we will know who the undisputed heavyweight champion truly is.
Riyadh Season Rolls On
While Fury and Usyk will now no longer tangle on 23rd December, reportedly Saudi Arabia’s officials want to keep the date. It is now expected that Francis Ngannou will have his second professional boxing match on the show.
It makes sense to strike while the iron is hot on Ngannou. He is 37 years old after all. Given how highly he is thought of after nearly beating Fury, it makes sense to capitalise on his momentum before the sporting conversation moves on.
Boxing News reports that Joseph Parker or Zhilei Zhang are being eyed for Ngannou on 23rd December. The Sportsman spoke to Zhang this week, with the fighter telling us, “I will step up. If the opportunity presents itself, I will do it. And I want to make sure Ngannou understands who is the boss of heavyweight boxing.”
Jermall Charlo Returns
After over two years of inactivity, WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo is set to return. ‘Hitman’ will take part in a non-title ten-rounder with Jose Benavidez Jr at the end of the month. The fight will take place on the undercard of David Benavidez vs Demetrius Andrade on 25th November.
Charlo has been out of the ring since a 2021 fight with Juan Macias Montiel, which he won by unanimous decision. “It’s been a long road to this point, but only the strong survive, and I’m built differently,” Charlo said. “I’m looking forward to reminding everyone that there is a reason why Jermall Charlo is an undefeated world champion and one of the best fighters today, pound-for-pound. This is the next chapter of my life, and it’s going to be my best.”
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao II?
Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao has targeted an exhibition fight with his old rival Floyd Mayweather. Speaking to Fight Hub TV, ‘Pac-Man’ said, "I'm still active, I'm an active guy, I'm actively training. I have an exhibition match this coming December in Japan," Pacquiao said. "We're working on it, the opponent. We're working with Mayweather”, he added.
Pacquiao has wanted a rematch from his 2015 unanimous decision loss to Mayweather ever since that bout. Citing an injury and Floyd’s own defensive display, Pacquiao has always insisted he could and should have beaten ‘Money’. Will he get that chance to prove it in Japan? Given the popularity of exhibition fights, don’t bet against it. But their first fight will remain the only one that truly matters.
Eddie Hearn: “Fragile” Fury Could Retire
Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn pulled no punches on IFL TV this week, giving Tyson Fury a verbal bruising to match the physical one he received from Ngannou. In a searing rant, Heanr said, ““Now, you’ll see Tyson Fury disappear because he doesn’t want the criticism. He bans anyone that wants to question him. So now we know he’s fragile, but now we know he’s fragile in the ring.”
Going further, Hearn predicted we may have seen the last of ‘The Gypsy King’. “Listen, I wouldn’t be surprised if he [Fury] retired, honestly. I’ve heard Spencer Oliver say that he’s heard rumblings of it. I wouldn’t even be surprised.”. Whether Fury does fight on remains to be seen, and the promoter of great rival Anthony Joshua would not be the most reliable source on Tyson stepping away. But he has done it before, numerous times. Perhaps the Ngannou beating will prove a bridge too far for the Mancunian to overcome.