Francis Ngannou coach Dewey Cooper expects top 10 boxing ranking after Tyson Fury fight

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – The question of whether Francis Ngannou belongs in the heavyweight boxing world has been answered with his performance on Saturday.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou (0-1 boxing) lost a close split decision to WBC heavyweight champ Tyson Fury in Saudi Arabia. Although Fury’s title was not on the line and he had his next title defense already scheduled, Ngannou’s knockdown of the undefeated Fury in the third round showcased his potential in the boxing realm.

In an interview with MMA Junkie after the fight, Ngannou’s striking coach at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Dewey Cooper, expressed confidence in Ngannou’s future in boxing.

“I thought we won the fight with the knockdown,” Cooper said. “It was a back-and-forth fight. I feel like it was probably even on the rounds, but the knockdown should’ve given us the advantage, like the one judge had it – 95-94 is how I scored it. I even told Francis the last round, ‘You’ve got to stay sharp – don’t let him steal this fight.’

“I thought we had won it closely. But (even losing) this fight closely is a magnificent accomplishment. Everybody – you (media), every-f*cking-body said we had no shot. Everybody said he’d get knocked out tonight, and what did he do? He dropped the champ – the prime, undefeated champ. His first fight out (in boxing), he went 10 rounds with the same energy as the champ.”

Following the fight, there was speculation about a rematch between Ngannou and Fury, as well as the possibility of Ngannou boxing another heavyweight standout instead of pursuing an official MMA move to the PFL. Cooper believes this is a valid option and expects Ngannou to be ranked among the top 10 heavyweight boxers.

“Absolutely, (he’s set up for another big fight),” Cooper said. “Mauricio Sulaiman, the president of the WBC, said he’s going to rank him in the top 10 because he’s better than most of the (boxing) heavyweights in the top 10. He said that (to Ngannou) in the ring. So absolutely, you’ll see him (box) again.”

Ngannou’s decision to leave the UFC while still the heavyweight champion has already proven to be a wise move, and Cooper believes that Ngannou will continue to gain respect in the combat sports world despite the disputed scoring of the fight.

“I felt like we won the fight by a round or two, but this is why boxing is going on a decline – a slight decline – well, except for Saudi Arabia,” Cooper said. “Boxing is now a business disguised as a sport. We need to keep it real and make these decisions as transparent as possible. At the end of the day, it didn’t go our way. But I’m proud of Francis. He went 30 minutes. He went 25 minutes with that other company, the UFC, on one leg, and now he went 30 minutes in his first boxing fight. If those aren’t accomplishments, I don’t know what is.”

For more on the matchup, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Fury vs. Ngannou.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie


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