Skip to content
Exclusive

Fury vs Ngannou: Fabio Wardley settles his feud with David Adeleye on Saturday after a scuffle on the red carpet

Fabio Wardley defends his British heavyweight title against bitter rival David Adeleye this Saturday in the chief support bout for Tyson Fury's fight against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Fabio Wardley reveals his disappointment after a scuffle with David Adeleye on the red carpet

Fabio Wardley's crowning moment, his arrival as a major name in the heavyweight division, had been ruined by a reckless scuffle on a red carpet.

Britain's heavyweight champion smiles ruefully, but he cannot deflect the disappointment after an opportunity to stand alongside the giants of combat sport was cruelly denied.

Wardley's title defence against David Adeleye had been confirmed as the chief support bout for Tyson Fury's fight with former UFC champion Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

This was it, a chance for Wardley to sit at the top table with Fury at a press conference in front of a global audience.

But then chaos broke out.

Fabio Wardley
Image: Wardley described the red carpet fracas as 'silly people with some silly antics'

Wardley was conducting an interview when he was shoved heavily by Adeleye, sparking a wild melee of flailing arms and legs, captured on a viral social media clip.

Despite being blameless, Wardley exited the event and sighs at the first mention of Adeleye.

Also See:

"Disappointment with being associated with something like that," Wardley tells Sky Sports when asked about his overriding emotion.

"I've done a lot in my career. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind the back and forth. I understand a bit of mouth here and there, but for it to turn into something physical and for it to take away from the fantastic event that was - the red carpet, the press conference.

"It was supposed to be a massive event, watched by millions. We were supposed to be on the big press conference stage and we got to announce ourselves and get that exposure and lap up the moment really - and all that was taken away by some silly people with some silly antics.

"Nothing in my career has ever led me to do anything like that. I'm not that type of professional. I respect the sport and everything that it's about. It's just disappointing that I'm associated with something like that."

But why did Adeleye do that?

David Adeleye
Image: Adeleye challenges Wardley for the British title on the Fury vs Ngannou bill in Riyadh

"Fear, I think. Nerves," Wardley instantly replies.

"I've been through these things in my career, I've done big events, I've done big shows, big press conferences. I'm calm, I'm comfortable. It's a natural thing for me now, which almost sounds funny to say.

"But I don't mind being there, I quite enjoy it, so I like to stand and look around and soak up the event, whereas other people, a few cameras, a few lights, they get jittery. The heart starts going and the anticipation builds and silly things like that come up.

"I'm doubtful that he regrets it. He probably finds it some sort of plus or some sort of bragging right, or he got the one up.

"All it does show me is your sort of mentality, where you're at, and how you're not ready for an event this big."

Wardley claimed the British belt with a dramatic early stoppage of Nathan Gorman on a Dillian Whyte undercard last November, while he pounded American contender Michael Coffie to a halt on an Anthony Joshua bill in April.

Fabio Wardley
Image: The 28-year-old added another win to his record on the Anthony Joshua bill in April

It has been a steep upward journey for the former unlicenced fighter who is now joining the world's No 1 champion, a former world champion, world title challengers and leading contenders from the sport's top division in Riyadh.

"With my trajectory, the way I'm going. It's not necessarily an inspiration [fighting on the same bill as Fury], but it's a north star. It's a point, something to look at and go for.

"He's [Fury] had some massive fights, massive stages and big events and they are the type of things I want to be a part of.

"It's all fun and games right now, chief supporting those events, but obviously I want it to be Wardley in big names and bright lights at some stage."

A grudge fight against Adeleye was not the initial plan for Wardley, who had welcomed the prospect of a big domestic clash with Frazer Clarke, the Olympic bronze medallist.

But the proposed bout broke down, with Clarke's team seeking more preparation before facing Wardley in a high-stakes fight.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wardley is still interested in a big domestic fight against Frazer Clarke

"It definitely can happen," said Wardley. "I thought it could happen last time."

"But from my side, at least, it definitely can happen. It's still a fight I'm open to [happening]."

He added: "Based off his most recent performances, yeah, he was definitely right [to delay it]. Whether it was him, whether it was his team saying: 'You're not quite there'. But whoever made that decision, to be fair to them, I think they made the right call."

From Lewis-Bruno to Joshua-Whyte, British boxing has been invigorated by heavyweight rivalries and Wardley believes he and Clarke can drum up public demand.

Fabio Wardley
Image: The British champion holds a 16-fight unbeaten record

"We come from very different backgrounds, in terms of our boxing backgrounds, so it has that play on styles almost of one coming from one side of the river and one coming from the other in that build-up.

"But that's something we could definitely build towards."

Adeleye comes first this weekend and Wardley gets the chance to create his own viral moment.

"I'll make sure he remembers that fight for all the wrong reasons, one thousand per cent," he said.

"He will remember it, because it's going to be one of the biggest shows, one of the biggest spotlights, and then on him.

"The biggest photo finish will be him sparked out on the floor."

Fabio Wardley is a VOW Nutrition ambassador, the sports supplements Trusted by the Elite.

Around Sky