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Boxed Lunch: Ngannou in for a Whooping

Former UFC Champion Faces Steep Odds in Boxing

Following his fallout with the UFC, Francis Ngannou is now one of combat sports’ hottest free agents. While the former heavyweight champion has yet to decide on his future, he has mentioned boxing the likes of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.

While Ngannou terrorized the UFC with his knockout power, he will face unflattering boxing odds if he does move to the squared circle.

UFC 270 heavyweight world champion Cameroon's Francis Ngannou
UFC 270 heavyweight world champion Cameroon's Francis Ngannou - Frederic J. BROWN / afp

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Ngannou Pursuing Boxing: A Mistake?

There are many good reasons why Ngannou is considering boxing over MMA. For one, there is potentially more money involved. The likes of Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren made a boatload of cash boxing Jake Paul in comparison to their UFC fight purses. And the former was a champion. So Ngannou calling out Wilder should come as no shock.

The appeal of this matchup is the fight between two of combat sports’ most fearsome knockout artists. Ten of Ngannou’s 12 UFC victories came by way of knockout while Wilder has a whopping 91.3 win-to-knockout percentage. When these two meet, bet online on the fight to not go to a decision.

In this fight, Wilder will be the favorite. While Ngannou poses a knockout threat, boxing is a whole different playing field than mixed martial arts. The gloves are different and Ngannou is taking on a specialist as opposed to a generalist.

Conor McGregor, who was knocking out nearly all of his UFC opponents, could not even knock down Floyd Mayweather Jr. And McGregor was a bigger boxer than Mayweather. Wilder is taller and longer than Ngannou. He will likely beat up Ngannou and make the Cameroonian quickly regret his decision.

Against Fury, it will be even more lopsided. Fury will dwarf Ngannou and will make him look foolish in the ring. The sportsbook installed Fury as a massive favorite (-600) and he may just beat Ngannou so badly that it will kill whatever drawing power the big man has.

The Slow Build: Ngannou Can Do Both Boxing and MMA

Jose Aldo blocks a kick from Marlon Moraes -Moraes vs Sandhagen Betting Preview
Jose Aldo blocks a kick from Marlon Moraes – Steve Marcus/Getty Images/afp

On the flip side, Ngannou does not need to take on a high-profile opponent right away. He can get “warmed up” and have a few winnable matches in the ring. The likes of Jose Aldo and Cris Cyborg won local matchups as they started settling on a boxing career. Ngannou can fight easier opponents before he takes on Wilder or Fury.

And while he’s doing it, Ngannou can sign with a top-tier MMA promotion like Bellator MMA or PFL. These promotions, unlike the UFC, are open to letting their fighters compete in other leagues. Ngannou can continue to build his stock as a fighter, though the threat of an upset is still there.

Right now, Ngannou has many options. Leaving the UFC is not the end of the world for him as some high-profile fighters have openly supported his decision. And Ngannou can return to the UFC. It seems toxic now, but many if not most top fighters have returned to the promotion despite public spats with Dana White.

For now, Ngannou seems intent on pursuing big-money fights in boxing. Maybe it’s just a quick cash grab since he is likely to lose. Even if he does, Ngannou can look to be competitive in his bouts. McGregor raised his stock after his fight with Mayweather and it set up the UFC’s most lucrative bout against Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Maybe Ngannou takes on Wilder or Fury and has a respectable showing. He buries the hatchet with the UFC and takes on Jon Jones in a blockbuster main event. Or Ngannou gets humiliated and fades away as a combat sports superstar. The odds are not in Ngannou’s favor, but he’s welcome to prove them wrong.

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