More than a month after Francis Ngannou came close to causing a seismic shock in his professional boxing debut when he was narrowly outpointed by WBC champion Tyson Fury, attention has again turned to what his next move might be — and indeed, in which sport.
Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion stands in an advantageous position, where he can attract high profile opponents in both boxing and mixed martial arts. One name frequently linked to him in the past several weeks is that of Deontay Wilder, a fighter generally regarded as the heaviest-hitting in boxing — similar to Ngannou’s own fearsome reptuation in MMA.
One potential opportunity has been the prospect of a ‘mixed rules’ bout between the two, which would attempt to find some middle ground for the two to thrown down under the auspices of Ngannou’s current employers, the PFL.. And speaking to Lucky Block recently, Wilder reiterated his interest but called for some clarity on what it might actually look like.
“I’d have to hear more about these ‘mixed rules’. I wouldn’t mind fighting in the octagon and stuff, but I’d have to understand how the mixed rules are distributed,” Wilder said. “What do they mean ‘mixed rules’? What can and can’t we do? But I know for sure — one fight in boxing and then one MMA fight – the rules are what they are.
“We’ve got rules in boxing, we’ve got rules in mixed martial arts. But when you’re mixing both together now you have to come up with your own rules and it can get kind of frustrating or confusing. But it could be something that’s new and I’m all about change. I’d need to hear it, both parties would need to hear it, and go from there.”
Speaking separately, to US sports personality Shannon Sharpe, Ngannou underscored that a Wilder fight is a genuine possibility.
“It could also be a mixed rules [fight],” the Cameroonian said. “We were thinking of mixed rules. Because honestly it’s going to be too hard for him if it’s not mixed rules. Even before this Tyson fight, we were talking with him. He’s also willing to fight me in MMA. For real.”
Ngannou added: “Because I have my territory [in MMA] where they cannot mess with me. If they come, they will need something like some favor, like, ‘I’ll give you this, we’ll take kicks out.’ I have to give him something. But when we step in the ring, they don’t give me anything and I still get them in trouble.”