Tyson Fury: Ngannou fight like Djokovic facing table tennis player at Wimbledon

Tyson Fury likened his boxing showdown against former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou to Novak Djokovic taking on a table tennis player in the Wimbledon final.

Fury is the prohibitive favourite for the 10-round fight to be held under boxing rules although he will not be defending his WBC title while it is unclear whether this counts towards his professional record.

Unbeaten in 34 contests, with 33 wins and one draw, Fury scoffed at suggestions of a monumental upset in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, ahead of taking on an opponent who has never before boxed professionally.

“It’s like a tennis table champion facing Djokovic in the Wimbledon final – it’s totally different,” Fury said. “Let’s just say this, boxing is a gentleman’s sport, boxing is the sweet science.

“It’s not two men brawling in the middle of a ring, it’s not who is the biggest and strongest will win, it’s whoever’s got the most boxing skill.

“I’ll knock him spark out. We don’t get paid for long, I’m going to make it nice and short for him.”

Fury was 19st 11lbs on Friday, equalling how much he weighed for his trilogy bout against Deontay Wilder two years ago, but he kept his tracksuit, trainers and cap on when stepping on to the scales.

Ngannou is accustomed to having to weigh in at 18st 13lbs or under in the UFC but without any restrictions in boxing, he scaled 19st 6lbs while wearing white jeans, a shirt and trainers.

The fighters took off their tops for the customary staredown, with the 6ft 9in Fury leaning into and towering over the 6ft 4in Ngannou, who initially refused to meet his opponent’s gaze. But Ngannou brushed off Fury using his chest before they prodded each other and exchanged words on stage.

“So many people play mind games, but this can’t get to me,” Ngannou said. “I’ve been in the game so long now, I consider it a part of the game. It’s nothing personal.”

Ngannou, who holds the world record for the hardest punch ever recorded and is being trained by heavyweight great Mike Tyson for the bout, added: “If that overhand right touches Fury, he’ll go down.”

What Ngannou can bring to the boxing ring is shrouded in mystery but the Cameroonian-Frenchman has won his last six MMA fights and left the UFC in acrimonious circumstances as its heavyweight champion.

Talks with the UFC collapsed as Ngannou claimed his appeals for better health insurance and sponsorship deals were rejected and he has since signed with rivals, the Professional Fighters League.

He is set to earn a career-high payday against Fury, who has been roundly criticised for taking on a novice boxer instead of looking to unify the four major world titles in boxing’s blue riband division.

A clash against Oleksandr Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO titlist who will be ringside on Saturday night, has been agreed and could happen as early as December 23, but Fury only has eyes for Ngannou for now.

“I don’t want to look forward anywhere, I’m only looking forward to tomorrow and that’s it,” Fury added.

“(After Saturday’s fight) I’m going to take a week off, I don’t want to hear from anyone about boxing, let me have some time with my family then I’ll come and take on the little guy (Usyk).”