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Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou weigh in for boxing clash | 'Like a table tennis champion facing Djokovic'

Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou take to the scales for a heavyweight boxing event in Saudi Arabia; Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou is boxing professionally for the first time against Fury - we speak to experts about what Ngannou can do, how Fury has been training and what's next

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Tyson Fury weighed-in four pounds heavier than Francis Ngannou ahead of their heavyweight clash in Riyadh on Saturday night

Tyson Fury has emphatically dismissed any chance of mixed martial arts star Francis Ngannou causing an upset when the pair meet in the boxing ring on Saturday night.

Ngannou, who scaled 272.1lbs to Fury's 277.7lbs, looked physically imposing at Friday's weigh-in and is a former UFC heavyweight champion known for his striking - but when he steps into the ring won Saturday he will be boxing professionally for the first time.

Fury is the towering WBC champion (whose title won't be on the line) who is widely regarded as the world's leading heavyweight, even though Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the WBO, WBA and IBF belts, would dispute that.

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Tyson and John Fury both attempted to face off against Francis Ngannou ahead of Tyson's clash in Saudi Arabia.

Fury wasn't impressed by what he saw of Ngannou on the scales or in his past MMA career. "I think he's a big fat sausage and I'll knock him spark out," Fury said afterwards. "I'm going to make it nice and short for him.

"It's like a table tennis champion facing Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, totally different."

Ngannou talked up his physical power. "If that overhand right touches him he'll go down," he said. "I'm very excited and it's going down tomorrow night.

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UFC star Ian Garry says that Tyson Fury will 'dominate' Francis Ngannou and would rather see the former UFC heavyweight champion up against Deontay Wilder.

"We are about to give a show for the people. I think this fight will end very quick."

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Be that as it may, even voices from MMA are not backing Ngannou to secure a monumental upset.

Former UFC fighter Dan Hardy told Sky Sports: "Of course, my prediction is that Tyson's going to win and he's going to outbox him for a couple of rounds, weigh on him, bear down on him and then probably look for that rear uppercut or a body shot to put him away."

Fury has all the advantages here, but word from his training camp is that nevertheless he has been taking it seriously.

"Very seriously," says Solomon Dacres, who has been one of Fury's sparring partners for Ngannou.

"I've been there for the last four weeks, started sparring in Morecombe, then here [in Saudi Arabia]. He's been preparing very hard as if it was any world title fight.

"He's been sparring hard rounds with me, Joe Parker, Martin Bakole as well has been up there, getting top quality sparring and just training hard, preparing for the best fighter that's going to be in the ring against you.

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Tyson Fury held an open workout ahead of his clash against former UFC champion Francis Ngannou.

"This MMA guy coming to take his chances. [Fury] is making sure every box has been checked, he's cut no corners in the training camp.

"There's no change there because he doesn't want to be made to look a fool."

Unknown quantity

Ngannou will have try to do something to surprise Fury.

Hardy said: "He's got to get close to [Fury]. Ngannou's going to have to nullify that lead hand of Tyson Fury because it's going to be a problem. It's going to be in his face all night and if he can't get around the jab, he's not going to get close to landing anything.

"The other thing I think will be key is working to the body. When you've got big power like Ngannou's got, you have a tendency to head-hunt and hitting Tyson Fury in the head is very, very difficult for some of the best boxers on the planet.

"Not only can he take a good punch but his upper body movement and his defence is great as well.

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Tyson Fury says he wants to fight twice this year and expects to face Oleksandr Usyk on December 23.

"So working to the body and maybe making his head a little bit more vulnerable might be a big key for Ngannou in this one but he's got to take his time. He can't make it too easy for Fury to pick him off as he's moving in and be too reckless."

Ngannou is an unknown quantity as a boxer. Hardy suggests he is going to have to make that a virtue.

"If he'd have faced another boxer before Tyson, his chances would be even slimmer. The fact that he's got the element of surprise in this fight is probably one of the biggest strings to his bow," Hardy said.

"The unpredictability, grouped with the power and the surprise factor of not being able to find anyone that moves like Francis Ngannou for sparring. They're all the things that play into increasing Ngannou's chances.

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Former UFC champion Dan Hardy says it would be foolish to write off a man with Francis Ngannou's power against Tyson Fury.

"It's certainly not going to be a walk in the park for the first couple of rounds, especially if Ngannou's being a little bit savvy with his approach and making Tyson wait to see what's going to happen.

"When you have that kind of power, it's a leveller."

Ngannou might have a future in boxing beyond this fight.

Top trainer Shane McGuigan said: "Top level welterweights, from a technical standpoint, they're so much technically better than a top heavyweight. So I think there will be a lot more room for a UFC guy coming over at heavyweight landing a shot, rather than someone at welterweight, because we're just too highly trained down at that weight. The margins will be a lot greater there than they are at heavyweight.

"There's always a puncher's chance but I don't see it going past four or five rounds," he added. "[Fury] will land a lot, he'll just chip away and he'll knock him out."

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Francis Ngannou hints that if he beats Tyson Fury there will be a rematch and a potential future bout with Anthony Joshua.

The road to Usyk

It's an outing that does serve a purpose for Fury. Not only is it highly lucrative but it should lead to the undisputed showdown with Oleksandr Usyk.

"[Ngannou will be] a hard spar. It's like a live spar, not even a hard spar, with smaller gloves," McGuigan said. "I think he will use this training camp to push on to the next training camp.

"It's a money-spinner," he noted but added: "It's good for boxing, as much as people don't think it is. Because Tyson Fury boxing Ngannou, who has a massive audience in the UFC, is better than him boxing Martin Bakole. [Those are] good fights but they're not going to get the audience because they don't have the following."

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Tyson Fury says Anthony Joshua is 'out in the cold' after AJ said he'll fight Fury in 2024.

Fury certainly appears to be gearing up for Usyk next, even if Ngannou is not direct preparation for the Ukrainian, who is highly technical and boxes out of a southpaw stance.

"He's prepared now just for Ngannou. But he will be getting the southpaws in soon after this fight when he starts. He's been mentioning a few names of guys he wants to get in, southpaws. But he's making sure he's got his full focus on this one and he'll get the southpaws in for the next one," Dacres revealed.

"That [Usyk fight next] is what I'm expecting and that's what seems to be that they're preparing for in their head as well. They're all gearing up towards that. December 23 is the date they've got in their minds.

"It's a big fight and something that everyone's going to tune into. Hopefully the British public get behind our own man, Tyson Fury, and bring all the belts back to Britain."

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