UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou faces Ciryl Gane in a unification bout at UFC 270 on Saturday, but has once again been linked to a future mixed-rules bout with two-time boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Wednesday 19 January 2022 18:26, UK
UFC star Francis Ngannou would not stand a chance against Tyson Fury or any of boxing's top heavyweights should he decide to step inside the ring, believes former WBO cruiserweight champion and MMA fan Enzo Maccarinelli.
Ngannou is gearing up to headline UFC 270 on Saturday as he meets Ciryl Gane in their heavyweight unification clash after knocking out Stipe Miocic last March to move atop of the division.
The 35-year-old's UFC contract is due to expire this month following his title defence, and speculation has resurfaced suggesting The Predator could switch disciplines in order to fight two-time heavyweight champion Fury.
Fury recently took to Twitter to propose a mixed-rules bout entailing boxing rules but the significantly lighter UFC gloves.
"This is what we're talking about, is he switching to boxing as in to start a career or is he switching to boxing to fight one of the top boys?," Maccarinelli told Sky Sports.
"If he's planning to fight one of the top boys he hasn't got a hope in hell, just like they wouldn't have a hope in hell in a cage with him.
"It's two different sports, it's two different rule sets, two different ways of holding your legs, two different ways of how you approach a fight, it's just crazy.
"You think, Ngannou coming in talking about Joshua, Fury, Uysk, they'd stand him on his head, Wilder, Joe Joyce.
It's a different setting and people would say about his power, but it's just totally different."
Ngannoue recently told ESPN MMA that he would "definitely" move into boxing at some stage in his career, adding that he was keen to sign a contract with UFC that included the right to take on opportunities in the ring.
Within the intrigue over the possible cross-over is whether he could translate world-leading punch power displayed in the Octagon into a legitimate threat between the ropes.
Conor McGregor was beaten comfortably upon making the switch to fight Floyd Mayweather, and Maccarinelli expects a similar fate for Ngannou.
"Mayweather fought McGregor, all the McGregor fans are like 'he's the hardest puncher he's ever faced', it's just different levels," he added.
"People will say about the gloves, a good friend of mine John Phillips, a UFC fighter, he tried a pair of my gloves on and he said he'd rather get hit with an MMA glove, it's not got a lot of padding, all the weight is in the wrists. What the boxing glove does is it's got that bigger target, which the MMA glove hasn't got.
"With Ngannou he'd come out swinging, and he'd still be dangerous, I'm not saying he can't punch because he obviously can, but he's going to come out swinging and fight one of these top boys like Fury and they'll just make him messy, he'd be tired out in a couple of rounds the way he fights, he'd have to change his tactic."
But Maccarinelli admits there would be public demand to see Ngannou in a boxing ring, and believes there are plenty of fighters that would jump at the chance to face the French Cameroonian.
"I can see him doing it, I don't think it would be an exhibition match, I think he'd like to have a try," he added.
"But I can't see him jumping straight in with one of the big boys, I'm sure one of the top boys wouldn't say no. If I was fighting, I 100 per cent would. I think any boxer would.
"Offer Dillian Whyte to fight Ngannou and he'd take it like that *clicks*. I did hear that Ngannou gave a good account of himself sparring Joe Joyce, but again sparring is sparring, fighting is fighting."
Whyte has also previously been linked with a fight against Ngannou, and told Sky Sports last year he believed he could "beat him in both styles".
"I don't think he's anything special, whichever they want (boxing or MMA)," he added.
"The guy is scared, so if doing MMA makes him feel better. If we have a fight in the cage first, he might take it, but if we offer him a boxing fight, then he might say, 'No, no, no.'"
Fury remains in talks to defend his WBC title against Whyte, his mandatory challenger.