“Oof” is how Francis Ngnanou begins to describe being trapped by Mike Tyson for his fight with Tyson Fury.
Even though Tyson has softened with age, the warrior who once terrorized the heavyweight boxing division remains.
“He’s very intense,” Ngannou went on to say. “It’s all about volume.” It’s all about the pressure. It’s pressing, pressing, pressing. I recall the first time we worked out together, and the next day he asked, ‘Are you sore?’ ‘No.’ I say. ‘That’s a mistake,’ he says.
“And then the next day I wake up…””I was exhausted from the second training.”
Tyson’s pressure and volume were two of his most powerful weapons in his prime, and Ngannou hopes enough of that strategy rubs off on him for the biggest fight of his life, a rematch with heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury on Saturday in Saudi Arabia.
Fury was named after Tyson, therefore Ngannou’s choice of corners might be interpreted as a fight business mind game.
Ngannou doesn’t appear to agree with that, but he also doesn’t seem to mind if others draw their own conclusions. If Fury finds Tyson’s presence in his corner “annoying,” Ngannou responded with a laugh,”that’s his problem.”
“At this point, I’m not concerned of what annoys Tyson Fury,” he went on to say. “It’s the game.” That is how the sport operates.
Sometimes you have a person you like, sometimes you have a sibling who fights a buddy, and occasionally you have a friend who fights someone you like.
“Your heart will always be on one side, but if he wasn’t fighting that guy, you might support him.” But it does happen. It’s a fighting sport.”
Ngannou is a huge underdog to upset Fury, whose record, but not his belts, will be on the line on Saturday.
Online commentators reacted angrily to footage of Ngannou training with Mike Tyson. Fury’s father, John Fury, questioned whether it was a joke, and Team Fury subsequently planned a heavyweight title unification fight with Oleksandr Usyk in December.
On Saturday, Ngannou will be backed by former champ Tyson, his MMA trainers Eric Nicksick and Dewey Cooper, and a boxing coach from his previous home country of France.
Tyson will have the most expertise and authority of the group – and, just maybe, the secret to surprising the world.