Mike Tyson joins forces with Francis Ngannou for Saudi boxing clash with Tyson Fury

Former UFC heavyweight champion goes up against unbeaten British star in 10-round bout in Riyadh in October

Mike Tyson is set to help Francis Ngannou prepare for his boxing match with Tyson Fury. AFP
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Francis Ngannou will receive some expert guidance for his boxing match against Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia later this year – in the form of heavyweight great Mike Tyson.

Ngannou, a former UFC heavyweight champion, faces current WBC belt-holder Fury in a 10-round bout on October 28 in Riyadh as part of the capital's "Riyadh Season" event. The clash, a professional fight, is billed as an encounter to crown the “Baddest Man on the Planet”.

On Thursday, organisers confirmed Tyson would indeed be in Ngannou’s corner, with the American saying in a release: “It is no secret I back Ngannou 100 per cent in this face-off of champions. He has one hard punch, and when it lands, it’s game over.

“I am looking forward to working with Ngannou and supporting his transition from the octagon to the boxing ring.”

It remains unclear if Tyson, 57, will contribute to Ngannou’s training camp ahead of the bout against Fury, or if he will simply meet up with the Professional Fighters League (PFL) signee when he arrives in the kingdom.

Like Tyson during his terrifying reign as heavyweight champion between 1986 and 1990, Ngannou possesses serious punching power. The Cameroonian, 36, won 10 of his 14 UFC bouts by knockout or TKO before leaving the promotion in January having not lost the heavyweight title. Ngannou joined the PFL in May.

“He isn’t a combat novice; he is a world champion,” Tyson said. “He knows how to compete when the bell rings, but the key will be combining his energy and combat skills into his punches and using his agility to move swiftly around the ring then delivering the knockout blow. We’re here to win.”

Given Fury’s pedigree, Ngannou will most likely need as much help as possible. The Brit, 34, is undefeated in 34 pro fights, with 33 wins.

“Bringing Mike Tyson into my training camp is one of the best decisions I can make to prepare for Tyson Fury in the ring at this year’s Riyadh Season,” Ngannou said in the release. “Mike Tyson is an idol of mine in the sport. His experience and boxing IQ will be important to honing my technique under his guidance to win this super-fight.

“I’ve been wanting this fight for years and now that it’s here, I’m focused on fighting the greatest fight of my career and shocking the world on the most epic stage for the fans in Riyadh. October 28, the world will know who’s the ‘Baddest Man on The Planet.’"

Updated: August 04, 2023, 9:48 AM