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Andy Lee, the Irish former world champion tasked with navigating Joseph Parker’s path through the giant Chinese fighter Zhilei Zhang in Saudi Arabia on Friday, has detailed a tense confrontation between rivals Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury during a high profile summit on in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The two heavyweights, both past or present champions of their respective sports, fought to a split-decision in October with Fury being awarded a controversial victory despite several analysts stating their belief that Ngannou could — or maybe should — have claimed the win.

On Tuesday, ahead of Ngannou’s second outing in a professional boxing ring against Anthony Joshua in two days’ time, Turki Alalshikh, the man primarily responsible for boxing’s financial boom in the Middle East, held a summit featuring some of the sport’s biggest names.

And according to Andy Lee, things got tense when Fury and Ngannou came face-to-face over the former UFC champion’s claims that he was the deserving winner of their fight last year.

“Anthony Joshua was on one side, Tyson [Fury] was here,” Lee told iFL TV of the encounter. “But Ngannou came in and Tyson pulled him up straight away. ‘Hey you,’ he said, ‘you’ve been talking about me in interviews saying I’m a coward. You called me a yellow belly.’

Lee added: “But Ngannou, in fairness, was quite calm and cool, and said ‘I didn’t say that.’ Fury said, ‘You did! You’re saying you won the fight. I beat you.

“What does your record say?” Fury added to Ngannou, according to Lee. “You take care of your man (Joshua) and I’ll take care of my man (Usyk) and I’ll give it to you again.”


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“He put it on him for a bit,” Lee said of the confrontation. “But it was interesting, and it was good. But like you said, when we were there Tyson said it was all a bit weird us being here together. There was Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren… Anthony Joshua was right beside him. It’s a good way to be, I said.

“It wasn’t a massive room, there was twenty-odd fighters in the room… All these big egos and big men.

“But that’s the way it should be,” Lee said. “Let the fight be the fight. And like Tyson said, they’re all getting well paid, aren’t they? So it’s a good thing for boxing.

“I was chatting with Tyson at the time, and there was Ngannou. I had a bottle of water, [Joseph Parker’s] water, I wouldn’t let Joe’s water out of my hand, but I said ‘Here, Joe, you better hold this’. I was worried about Tyson and his eye [the cut that postponed February’s scheduled bout with Usyk].

“Nothing came of it,” Lee added with a laugh. “Tyson probably had to do that, you know, because he wouldn’t be able to live with himself unless he pulled him up for saying what he said. I respected him for doing it.

“But I [also] respected Ngannou, because Ngannou [brushed it off]. It wasn’t like he sh*t himself or backed down or apologised. He just stood his ground.”