John Fury had a hard time believing what he was seeing.
The father of WBC titlist Tyson Fury was shocked by former UFC champion Francis Ngannou’s boxing ability during a media workout in Las Vegas ahead of Ngannou’s boxing debut against Fury on Oct. 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fury’s title, however, will not be at stake.
A well-circulated video of the public workout taken by the co-promoter, Top Rank, showed Ngannou heeding instructions from his trainer, Mike Tyson, about throwing a jab-right hand combination. Ngannou then proceeded to throw that combination on the mitts and body vest of his assistant trainer, Dewey Cooper.
Online, many viewers were taken aback by Ngannou’s apparent poor form and slow speed—including the elder Fury.
“Just seen Francis Ngannou and Mike Tyson and that so-called trainer, the one that has got the pads on, in the open workout,” Fury said in a video posted on social media. “I hope he’s kidding along and he’s playing possum here. I hope that’s a joke and intended to be a laugh because if it’s not, he ain’t got a prayer. He ain’t got a hell’s chance. He won’t get out the first round. It’ll probably be Tyson’s quickest knockout.”
The elder Fury’s concerns of a mismatch, of course, reflects widespread public sentiment that Fury vs. Ngannou is a farce, albeit a lucrative one.
When the fight was announced, many fans and observers lampooned it because it featured a top boxer against a novice. And given there was an expectation to see Fury glove up against unified champion Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship, the announcement of that fight came across to some as a disappointment.
John Fury can only hope, for Ngannou’s sake, that the media workout was some kind of ruse.
“You know what, it has got to be kidology, that,” John Fury said. “ It’s got to be fun and games. Because if that’s what he’s got, well, God help him. He’ll get smashed to bits. That’s all I’m sayin’, mate. That’s embarrassing. If that’s what he can do in a public workout, don’t be doing a public workout. It’s a disgrace.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.