Boxing in London - Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora
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Showdowns between stars from boxing and MMA is not a new concept, but there has been nothing like the upcoming clash between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou. The mega-fight, set for Oct. 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, represents a pairing of the consensus top heavyweights in both sports.

The fight will take place under the official rules of boxing with three judges at ringside and the 10-point must system. It is unclear if this fight will count as an officially sanctioned match or an exhibition bout.

Ngannou left the UFC as the reigning heavyweight champion following a lengthy, much-publicized dispute with UFC president Dana White over pay. After months of speculation surrounding his free-agent status, Ngannou signed with Professional Fighters League, not only as talent but as a figure who was pegged to help improve fighter pay as a part of the promotion's "pay-per-view super fight division."

On the heels of Ngannou's departure, the UFC was quick to stage a fight between longtime former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former heavyweight title challenger Ciryl Gane, with Jones scoring a dominant victory. Still, many view Ngannou as the sport's "baddest man in the world."

"I've been waiting to meet Tyson in the ring for the past three years. My dream was always to box, and to box the best. After becoming the undisputed MMA heavyweight champion, this is my opportunity to make that dream come true and cement my position as the baddest man on the planet" Ngannou said in a statement. "I'd like to thank Riyadh Season and my team at 3Point0 Labs for helping put this event together. All I will say to Tyson for now is he better dance in that ring because if I touch him, he's going to sleep."

Similarly, Fury, the WBC heavyweight champion, has been considered the best in boxing among his weight class. Fans have been eyeing Fury to face off with WBA, WBO and IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk to determine an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, but pay negotiations between the two sides have been contentious with neither being able to come to terms. 

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"As soon as that bell goes, it'll be bombs away! This guy is supposed to be the hardest puncher in the world, but let's see how he reacts when he gets hit by the Big GK," Fury said in a statement. "I can't wait to get back out there under the lights. I'm looking forward to showing the world that The Gypsy King is the greatest fighter of his generation in an epic battle with another master of his craft."

Usyk ultimately agreed to a fight with mandatory opponent Daniel Dubois, while other top heavyweights were also signed to big fights. Fury being left without a notable opponent against whom to defend his crown has now led to the crossover exhibition bout between the two behemoths, a battle that has been teased dating back to Ngannou's negotiations with the UFC.

Recent years have seen several crossover fights between MMA and boxing fighters, largely spurred on by the financial difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the regularity of these crossover bouts, though, none have featured consensus top fighters from the same division. 

"Tyson Fury is one of the finest heavyweight boxers in history, and he now has an opportunity to lock horns with an MMA legend," Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said in a statement. "This will be a historic event, and we know that Tyson Fury will put on a tremendous fight. The people of Riyadh and fight fans around the world are in for a real treat."