Francis Ngannou feels there were insidious forces at work, behind the curtain, in his recent stint in the boxing world.
The former UFC champion from Cameroon is apparently under the impression that there was some element of skullduggery involved in his controversial split decision loss to WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury last month in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Ngannou, who made his boxing debut on that night, shocked many observers with his performance, which included a knockdown of Fury in the third round. Many felt the fight, which pitted a boxing novice against one of the top heavyweight fighters of this generation, to be a blatant mismatch, but it did not play out as such.
One judge had Ngannou winning 95-94, while two others had it 95-94 and 96-93 for Fury. The result now sets up the undisputed heavyweight championship between Fury and unified champion Oleksandr Usyk, reportedly set for February in Riyadh.
In a recent interview, Ngannou, who has not been shy about calling the outcome a “robbery,” offered a more robust explanation for his conspiratorial frame of mind.
“Yes, I had the same feelings [as fans]—Definitely, I was robbed,” Ngannou said on I Am Athlete. “But, also, I have an understanding that you can’t just walk in and disrupt a system like that. I think it was a very bad look for boxing, for everything, and there was a lot of business involved.
“So, some judges just sacrificed themselves and take the hit, and save the face. But they know that that was a dirty job. There wasn’t even a judging, they wasn’t even judging those fights. There was just, like, ‘Okay, we are not going to lose.’”
Ngannou also took issue with an elbow that Fury landed across his face during the sixth round.
“I think even if there was a knockout, they would have found a way to make me [lose] that fight,” Ngannou said. “Because I should have won that fight. The guy gave me elbow … and the referee didn’t even say anything because. If that elbow had hurt me, I’m sure they would have count that as a punch and give him a decision, right? But I was prepared. I knew what I was stepping into. I wasn’t going to let them get in my mind or to get me frustrated. I was just going there to fight …It seems like at the end even they were getting frustrated because even that elbow was out of frustration.
“I don’t care, I was just about [getting] the big fight, fight the big guy, and go there and prove people wrong,” he continued. “And I did, and I think I’m very happy with my performance and what I did. Yes, the result wasn’t there. But for some guy that is out there building his record and working hard, to get out there and have those kind of outcomes that might have a huge impact in his career—is not fair at all. It doesn’t represent boxing very well, because boxing is not known as a noble art. But it seems like the people behind it are not noble at all. They have nothing noble.”
“When I saw one of those calls, there’s nothing noble here. This is like f------- robbery. You’re not even ashamed of it. Somebody scored 93-96 and I’m like OK, what fight are we scoring? But I think we got to the point where we don’t care. ‘We don’t have no scruples. We will retain our interest no matter what.’ Those kinds of guys should be cut out of the sport. You should take them out of the sport, period.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.