(Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on USA TODAY Sports, part of the USA TODAY Network.)
Tyson Fury promoter Bob Arum watched his fighter turn into a heavyweight title defense for the ages on Saturday. Fury, 33, delivered a brutal uppercut to score a sixth-round TKO over compatriot Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 at Wembley Stadium in England.
And despite all of Fury’s declarations that he would leave the sport after this fight, Arum knows there’s no way a fighter could walk away after thriving at a time like that.
“No, he definitely won’t retire. Of course, no. Are you crazy?” Arum told USA TODAY Sports+ minutes after Fury improved to 32-0-1 with 23 knockouts in the one-sided win.
Fury couldn’t even get out of the ring before hyping up a possible next fight: a combat sports hybrid event against UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, who entered the Wembley ring afterward. Ngannou talked about fighting Fury with lighter MMA-style gloves.
“I am the heavyweight boxing champion. This is the UFC heavyweight champion. Are you in good shape? Look at the muscles on him,” Fury told the ESPN+ audience. “This will be a very special fight, the likes of which has never been seen before in the sport. We are not talking about two light guys. It will be an explosive fight when it happens.”
Ngannou replied: “I am going to find out who is the baddest (man) on the planet. … It’s going to be a hybrid fight. MMA gloves, in the ring. Something different.”
Arum, who remained in the US after recently showing symptoms of COVID-19, spoke with Fury on the phone as the champion gloated in the ring.
The Las Vegas-based veteran promoter for Top Rank said he thinks it’s reasonable that Fury-Ngannou could happen because both Top Rank and the UFC have ESPN broadcast deals in place.
UFC president Dana White did not immediately respond to messages left by USA TODAY Sports+, but said earlier that it would be “a very bad idea” for Ngannoun to box Fury.
“I don’t know what (Ngannou’s) contract status is with the UFC,” Arum said. “Obviously it would be a massive fight and it should be easy to do.”
Arum plans to host a dinner with Fury when the WBC champion arrives in Las Vegas in two weeks.
“We’ll have plenty of time to talk about everything,” Arum said.
With three-belt heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk of the Ukraine preparing to stage his rematch against England’s former world champion Anthony Joshua in July, the expectation has been that Fury will meet the winner of that fight first.
The fight against Ngannou, who is expected to recover from knee surgery around November, would follow the highly popular 2017 boxing and UFC clash between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor. That event produced more than 4 million pay-per-view buys, second only to Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao two years earlier.
Ngannou’s dominance is based on his standing prowess, so there is interest in how an attack backed by the Cameroonian fighter’s heavy punches would stack up against Fury’s much more disciplined style.