By Steve Kim Updated on October 26, 2023

Battle of the Baddest

They are billing the bout between WBC heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and Francis Ngannou (best known for his exploits in mixed martial arts) as 'the Battle of the Baddest'. Its taking place in Saudi Arabia and will be distributed on ESPN+ PPV.

 Picture for Battle of the Baddest

Whether or not this is a real boxing match that will go on either mans record still isn't clear, or if this is even an officially sanctioned fight. But there will be some sort of spectacle taking place on Saturday.

Picture for Battle of the Baddest

For Fury, this will be his first outing (official, or otherwise) this year, and barring the unforseen, he will then face Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed crown next. (Well, at least that's what's been announced.)

The reason why this is happening is very simple -- money. While this  match-up may irritate the hard-core fans, I harken back to the words of the late, great Jay Larkin, the former head of Showtime Sports, that ''boxing, is a business dressed up as a sport."

The reality is that Fury can make a lot of money for taking on a novice, while Ngannou will probably take home a lot more than he usually did while defending his titles under the UFC banner. Whether or not there was a true appetite for this from the general public is really immaterial. As long as someone was willing to finance and meet the demands of both combatants, this was going to happen.

Picture for Battle of the BaddestMikey Williams/Top Rank

While some believe that bouts of this nature began with the 2017 event featuring Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, really, you could state that the ill-fated meeting between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki (which was actually not contested under the Marquis of Queensbury rules) was really the genesis of all this.

This is like Michael Jordan facing Wayne Gretzky in a game of one-on-one basketball. Both are elite in their chosen field, but one of the participants will be performing way out of his element. And with the financial leverage that boxers enjoy, the likes of Mayweather and now Fury have the luxury of going into the squared circle and not the Octagon.

Barring a miracle, Fury should easily tame Ngannou. "I might give him a slick, master boxing performance, not let the ugly man touch me once," said the always outspoken 'Gypsy King'. "That would be unbelievable, wouldn't it? I might start dancing, tripling the jab like Apollo Creed, move around, just stick and move."

Or he could just utilize his superior striking skills.

"When (Ngannou) feels this right hand, he won't be winning very much," Fury promised.

Picture for Battle of the BaddestMikey Williams/Top Rank

As for Ngannou, he understands that he wont win a boxing match versus Fury..

"I didn't try to replicate what Fury would do. I'm not going in there to play Fury's game. I'm going there to play my own game," he said.  "So, my training was based on me, how I can fight, and that's what me and my coaches worked on. It went well. Tough, but it went well."

The best thing you can say about Ngannou as he works out is that he punches well -- for a mixed martial artist. "I'm aware of my lack of experience in boxing,"he admits. But I am a man of challenges, and I've overcome a lot of challenges."

Picture for Battle of the BaddestMikey Williams/Top Rank

There are challenges, and then there are impossibilities. This seems to be the latter. After this Fury can get back to some real boxing.

"I'm not thinking about (the Oleksandr Usyk fight),"promised Fury. "I got this big sausage to deal with, and once I grill him up nice and good, then we'll move on to the next one."



Speaking of undisputed, it was announced formally by Top Rank on Tuesday night that Naoya Inoue, who currently holds the WBC and WBO titles at 122, will be facing Marlon Tapales, who is in possession of the other two major titles in the division(WBA, IBF) on December 26 at the Ariake Arena in Japan.

Back in late July, Inoue -- who had just become the undisputed bantamweight champion -- stopped the previously undefeated Stephen Fulton in eight rounds to take his two belts off him.

Picture for Battle of the BaddestTop Rank

Should 'the Monster' do the expected and defeat the Filpino, that would mean in a span of just three fights(and around 12 months) will have become the undisputed champion in two divisions. 

He pulls this off, does that make him the 2023 fighter of the year?



On Tuesday night I was flipping around the TV, and I saw that Showtime Extreme was re-airing the 2009 bout between Tim Bradley and Kendall Holt in Montreal, in what was a junior welterweight unification bout.

After getting sent hard to the canvas in the first, Bradley took control of the fight, and despite another knockdown in the 12th round, 'the Desert Storm' won a hard-earned decision to become a unified champion.

He followed that up four months later by decisioning Nate Campbell, and he ended that year with a solid win over the previously undefeated and highly regarded Lamont Peterson.

Do young up-and-coming boxers of this generation have those kind of campaigns nowadays?

Are they even allowed to?

Or want to?



This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Mario Lopez and I preview Fury-Ngannou, and pay tribute to the career of Jorge Linares:

THE 3 KNOCKDOWN EP 20 | FAREWELL TO LINARES | Tyston Fury vs Francis Ngannou Preview!


Click on the Linktree to subscribe on your preferred platform:



Chris Eubank Jr. and his handlers hae informed the WBO to not make him a mandatory for their middleweight titlist, Janibek Alimkhanuly, as they seem to have some other more lucrative plans in front of them....DAZN has coverage of the WBC 130-pound title tilt between O'Shaquie Foster and Rocky Hernandez from Mexico, and Amanda Serrano from Florida on Saturday night....I can be reached at

About Author
Battle of the Baddest
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.