Night of the Giants Just Got Bigger: All-Heavyweight Undercard To Support Fury-Ngannou Super Fight in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - David Adeleye-Fabio Wardley, Joseph Parker-Simon Kean, Arslanbek Makhmudov-Agron Smakici and Moses Itauma Highlight Undercard PPV Extravaganza!
(September 28th) Unbeaten British heavyweight standouts Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye will meet in a high-stakes clash Saturday, Oct. 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 12-round battle of emerging stars will serve as the chief support contest to the historic showdown between WBC & lineal heavyweight boxing world champion Tyson Fury and lineal MMA heavyweight world champion Francis Ngannou.
The premier combat sports event of the year, which marks the opening of Riyadh Season - the world’s biggest entertainment event - features a night of action delivered by boxing’s marquee division, the heavyweights.
Former WBO world champion Joseph Parker (32-3, 22 KOs), from Auckland, New Zealand, goes up against Canada’s Simon Kean (23-1, 22 KOs), and bone-crunching puncher Arslanbek Makhmudov (17-0, 16 KOs), also residing in Canada, takes on Croatian veteran Agron Smakici (19-2, 17 KOs). Both fights are scheduled for 10 rounds.
And, in a special six-round special attraction, 18-year-old heavyweight phenomenon Moses Itauma (5-0, 3 KOs) will face an opponent to be named.
This unprecedented heavyweight spectacular is promoted by Queensberry, Top Rank and GIMIK Fight Promotions, along with Eye Of The Tiger, promoter of Kean and Makhmudov.
Fury-Ngannou and the heavyweight undercard will be available on pay-per-view in the United States.
Ipswich’s Wardley (16-0, 15 KOs) became English champion in 2021 with a first-round stoppage of Nick Webb before capturing British honors with a third-round TKO of Nathan Gorman last November. He is coming off a fourth-round TKO over Michael Coffie in April.
Adeleye (12-0, 11 KOs), from London, is the current WBO European champion, having won his maiden professional title by defeating the previously unbeaten Dmytro Bezus at York Hall in February and subsequently stopping Emir Ahmatovic in June.
The Adeleye-Wardley rivalry hit new heights at the Fury-Ngannou press conference in London earlier this month, as the fighters and their camps brawled on the red carpet. The melee left Wardley with cuts above his left eye and under his chin.
“I’ve got a clean bill of health,” Wardley said. “Nothing has changed. I am still feeling strong, moving hard, and hitting new numbers.
“I don’t know how to quantify how my desire to win by knockout has increased after what happened but, yes, substantially. Massively, because I am a professional person and I like to act like a professional, but if you want to go early, then that’s fine, and I am ready to go at any minute.
“When those situations occur, all it does is fuel the fire more. All you have done is made it worse for yourself. You’ve made me train harder, you’ve made me work for it more, you’ve made me want it more.”
Adeleye said, “I’m really looking forward to competing on the global stage in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Everywhere I go, people are talking about this fight. I intend to put on a show and display why I'm the best young heavyweight out there.”
Parker captured the WBO crown in 2016 with a points triumph over future champion Andy Ruiz Jr. in Auckland. He made two title defenses before an unsuccessful unification fight against Anthony Joshua in 2018. He won the WBO Intercontinental championship in May 2021 with a decision victory over Derek Chisora, making a successful defense against the Chisora seven months later.
Parker lost a bid for the WBO Interim world title against Joe Joyce last September, but he has enjoyed a successful 2023 with wins over Jack Massey and Faiga Opelu. Kean won the WBC International Silver championship in 2019 with a defeat of former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich, making a successful defense against Daniel Martz the following year. He has won eight straight via the short route, most recently notching a seventh-round stoppage over Eric Molina in March.
Parker said, “I’m looking forward to being back in Saudi Arabia. It was great the last time I was there to support another fighter and boxing event. This time I’m going to take care of business in my own fight against a tough challenge in Simon Kean. It is fantastic to be on this card and to be part of this major event. My preparations are on point. There is not long to go now.”
Kean said, “This is the moment all fighters dream of their whole career. This is what I’ve been working for and asking for. It’s time to deliver.”
Makhmudov won the WBC Continental Americas strap in 2019, becoming the first man to stop Jonnie Rice. He went on to win the NABF and NABO belts with a slew of wins over notable opponents, including Pavel Sour, Erkan Teper and Mariusz Wach. Makhmudov had a triumphant United States debut in July, obliterating Raphael Akpejiori in two rounds. Smakici challenged for the vacant European title in his last fight, but he suffered a loss to the undefeated Agit Kabayel. The Croatian’s only other setback came against then-unbeaten Zhan Kossobutskiy in 2019.
Makhmudov said, “Saudi Arabia is a very special place for me. It's always been my goal to fight there, so I'm grateful to have this opportunity. I'm looking forward to putting on a great show.”
About Riyadh Season:
Saudi Arabia's capital embraces one of the world's biggest entertainment events every year during winter. Since the launch of the Riyadh Season in 2019, the festival has welcomed visitors from all over the world to experience thousands of concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and other unique cultural events. In 2023, Riyadh Season will commence on Saturday, 28 October with a spectacular opening ceremony and an historic boxing match between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou.
All Aboard The Riyadh Express!
By Frank Warren
(September 10th) If anyone doubted the scale and gravity of the forthcoming cross-code heavyweight spectacular between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou then Thursday evening’s media event provided ample evidence of what to expect when the big men open up Riyadh Season on October 28.
The London launch attracted media representatives from across the globe at a level rarely witnessed in any sport. The backdrop to proceedings was breathtaking and those in attendance soon realised the size of event we are entering into.
It is only going to get bigger the closer we get to departure for Saudi Arabia.
Tyson was in fine form, as usual, and the groundbreaking nature of this encounter is certainly igniting the fire in his belly.
There is no doubt in my mind that Tyson is now, quite probably, the most recognisable and popular sportsman on the planet. He has transcended boxing and, personality-wise, you have to bracket him with Muhammad Ali.
His extracurricular activities only serve to increase his popularity and recognition. His Netflix series has attracted the highest ever ratings in the UK and his three books quickly fell into the best-seller category.
And don’t forget his dabble in the world of wrestling a few years ago with the WWE, which also featured as part of Riyadh Season. So he is not entering into unfamiliar territory come the back end of October.
For this Riyadh Season event there will be a specially constructed venue to stage the fight and beforehand Tyson and Francis will be the subject of some serious global media exposure.
I know and understand that a section of boxing fans don’t like the fight, but I am not going to blather on any longer over the shenanigans we encountered in attempting to make the fights we all want.
I just believe we shouldn’t underestimate Francis Ngannou – and seeing him in person has only reinforced this view. He will come to fight and I shouldn’t imagine for a minute that he will be an easy knockover job.
He is robust, battle-hardened and powerful. And, according to our man Joe Joyce, he is not a bad boxer. However, in no way do I expect him to try and outbox Tyson.
Francis will come with the express aim of landing the heavy artillery and, should it get over-physical in there, we need a strong referee on the night.
Can he bully and intimidate Tyson? That is the question and many millions of eyes will be trained on Riyadh on October 28 to find out.
Fury vs Ngannou Launch Presser!
(September 7th) Lineal & WBC heavyweight boxing champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury and lineal heavyweight MMA king Francis Ngannou met face-to-face today at the kickoff press conference for the most anticipated combat sports event of the year.
Fury and Ngannou will collide in a 10-round boxing match on Saturday, October 28 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in an epic showdown between two giants of their fields, which will mark the opening of this year’s Riyadh Season. The fight will take place under the official rules of professional boxing, with the three ringside judges using the 10-point must system.
This clash of heavyweight titans is promoted by Queensberry, Top Rank and Ngannou’s promotional banner, GIMIK Fight Promotions.
Fury-Ngannou will be available on pay-per-view in the United States.
This is what Fury, Ngannou and Hall of Fame promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren had to say:
“I’m absolutely honored to be fighting Francis. He’s going to be a very, very good fighting man. You can see that he’s massive. He’s in shape. He’s going to be a real challenge. It’s something different for me. I’m used to boxing boxers and boxing the head off of somebody. But fighting an MMA guy who comes in with a different style is going to be different."
“I can’t wait for it. It’s going to be an absolutely fantastic event. I’m honored that I’m a part of it, and I’m honored that Francis is a part of it. I’ve got to take my hat off to Francis for his story, where he’s come from, the fight, the grind, the determination and everything he’s put into it to get to where he is.”
"I will give Francis the respect that he deserves as a warrior, as a man and as a world champion. He's a big man. He's very strong and powerful. And it's in my interest to give it the 100 percent training in camp and bring in the best sparring possible for me."
"I am very excited. I am very happy. I have been dreaming of becoming a boxer since I was a kid. And today, I’m not just going to box; I’m going to box the guy at the peak of the mountain. Usually, I would not pay attention to what is going around. But this thing is so big that I can’t stop thinking about it. History is going to be made."
"It’s something that I didn’t see coming, even though my dream was always there. I always hoped for it to happen someday. But I didn’t see it lay out this way as one of the biggest events of the world. This is not just a fight. We are going to open up Riyadh Season. So, it is a cultural event that we are fighting on. And we’ll just make this fight bigger and bigger. Nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, but what I do know for sure is that I’m going to be out there hunting for that guy’s head to take it off. I can guarantee that.”
"This is a massive event around the world, but it’s particularly massive in the United States because MMA has become one of the most popular sports there and Francis Ngannou is a legend in that sport. And Tyson has performed so admirably in the United States over the past few years that he is a massive figure in sports. The fact that they’re both coming together is something that is creating tremendous interest in the United States.”
"This is a massive event. This is the biggest event I’ve ever been involved with. It’s a crossover event. You’ve got a guy who is the best in his discipline. He is the heavyweight champion. And you’ve got the man, the lineal champion, Tyson Fury, who has done everything you can ask for in a fighter. He’s an undefeated champion, a brilliant boxer and fighter. He can box or he can stand and trade with you. This is going to be something special."
Fury vs Ngannou:
Who Is The Baddest Man On the Planet?
Heavyweight Titans Set To Clash
October 28th In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia!
(July 11th) Tyson Fury, the undefeated Lineal and WBC heavyweight champion of the world, and Francis Ngannou, the former UFC heavyweight champion, will collide on Saturday, October 28th in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in an epic showdown between two giants of their fields following the opening of Riyadh Season.
The clash to find out who is the “Baddest Man on the Planet” will take place under the official rules of professional boxing, with 3 judges ringside adopting the 10-point must system. Both fighters however are promising to meet in the middle of the ring, go to war and win by knockout in devastating fashion.
An agreement has been reached with Queensberry, Top Rank and Ngannou’s promotional banner, GIMIK Fight Promotions, to partner with Riyadh Season to host the history-making event that will capture the imagination of fight fans around the globe.
The world will discover who can rightly claim the title of “Baddest Man on the Planet” in the capital of the Kingdom, when “The Gypsy King” goes up against “The Predator” to determine the true Heavyweight King.
The fight will see the toughest chin in boxing tested by the Most Powerful Punch in the world, as confirmed by the Guinness World Records. This is a matchup where there will be no quarter given.
The mega-fight, one of the richest in history, will take place in a regulation boxing ring under the standard boxing rules in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s largest city.
Tyson Fury: “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. 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. Francis looked tough when he jumped in the ring after the Whyte fight, but there is no one tougher than me, and you’ll all see that in devastating fashion on October 28. I’d like to thank my promoters Frank Warren and Bob Arum, my manager Spencer Brown and the guys at Riyadh Season for making this incredible event possible. It’s going to be a fight for the ages. Get up!”
Francis Ngannou: “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. 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.”
His Excellency Turki Alalshikh (Chairman of the Board of the General Entertainment Authority and Head of Riyadh Season): “Riyadh Season 2023 is back for its fourth edition of world class experiences and live events — keeping its claim as one of the most anticipated entertainment seasons worldwide. Following its opening ceremony, Riyadh Season 2023 will kick-off with an electrifying boxing match on October 28th, 2023. MMA and boxing audiences will witness the ultimate clash between two champions, Tyson Fury against Francis Ngannou. This face-off will set a new standard for such an event.”
Frank Warren (Queensberry Chairman): “This heavyweight clash has ‘war’ written all over it. Tyson Fury is the most exciting heavyweight on the planet. It is a game changer; we didn’t want to wait for Tyson to get out and here we are at Riyadh Season in a super-fight. Tyson is at his best when he is breaking new boundaries and this event is one of a kind. History will be made in Riyadh with a battle of the giants from the two leading codes of combat fighting. Tyson is the true King of the Ring and Francis Ngannou will present an intriguing challenge as he has the much publicized Most Powerful Punch in the world, this guy has a sledgehammer in each hand. Can Tyson avoid the sledgehammer all fight? What happens if it lands? It will be a truly spectacular event and Riyadh Season will provide a stage fit for two champions in one boxing ring.”
Bob Arum (Top Rank Chairman): “Tyson Fury is one of the finest heavyweight boxers in history, and he now has an opportunity to lock horns with an MMA legend. 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.”
Marquel Martin (Chief Executive Officer, 3Point0 Labs): “Francis has been defeating the odds since he was born and so has Tyson from what I understand. Both are ‘Kings’ of their respective heavyweight divisions in their primes, and we finally get to see whose head is fit to wear the crown. We have all the respect in the world for Tyson and his team, but they are not accustomed to dealing with a force of nature like Francis. He’s simply BUILT DIFFERENT and I think Tyson will feel that in the Ring come October 28th in Riyadh. History is made here and we’re very much looking forward to shocking the world once again.”
Andrew Cutrow (Chief Business Officer, 3Point0 Labs): “All due respect in the world to a heavyweight fighter of Tyson’s calibre, sitting up there with the Mike Tysons and Muhammad Alis of the world, but there is no one with the will and fight that Francis has. He’s beaten every insurmountable challenge in his life, whether in the ring or in life, and it’s fair to say that NO ONE wants to be on the end of one of his punches. Riyadh should get ready for a fight for the ages - one that will go down in history as one of the greatest sporting events of this generation.”
Tyson Fury background:
The undefeated Fury, 34, the 6-foot-9 self-styled Gypsy King with a record of 33-0-1 (24 KOs), first became unified world heavyweight champion back in November 2015 when he toppled the long-standing ruler Wladimir Klitschko.
Dusseldorf, Germany, was the scene of one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history, when the unified king was befuddled by the bashful Brit. The Ukrainian was completely outfoxed by his younger challenger and Fury wasn't to be denied. Klitschko was parted from his four belts and Lineal champion status.
After a lengthy period out of the ring, Fury teamed up with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren to plot his route back to heavyweight domination and, after just two return fights, he accepted the challenge of taking on the previous WBC champion and biggest puncher in world boxing, Deontay Wilder, in December 2018.
The outcome was a hotly disputed draw, which ensured the Fury-Wilder chapter still had a couple more pages to run. Fury linked up with Top Rank and ESPN in America, and a rematch with Wilder took place in February 2020. Fury took many experts by surprise by stating his intention to meet the ferocious hitter in the centre of the ring.
To that end, he teamed up with old comrade SugarHill Steward in order to maximize his own offensive weapons. True to his word, Fury rocked Wilder and put him down in the third and fifth before the towel came in from Wilder's corner just over halfway through the seventh.
An absolute thriller took place in October 2021 in Las Vegas. Fury picked up where he left off and put Wilder to the canvas in the third before a spirited revival from the ‘Bronze Bomber’ saw Fury down twice in the fourth. The champion prevailed convincingly in the end, with Wilder down the 10th and then out for count in the 11th. An epic trilogy had played out before the eyes of the world.
London was calling when a mandatory defense against WBC interim champion Dillian Whyte was called by the governing body. There was only one place fit to stage the homecoming of The Gypsy King and a packed to the rafters Wembley Stadium became Fury's field of dreams. Wembley is traditionally known as the 'Home of Legends' and Fury added his name to the illustrious list with a spectacular sixth-round stoppage in front of 94,000 spectators.
Fury sold out another stadium last December, this time Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with 60,000 people braving the night air to see him overwhelm Derek Chisora for a third time via a 10th-round stoppage in what represented a third defense of his WBC world championship.
Francis Ngannou background:
Ngannou, 36, 17-3 (12 KOs) has a life-story that most wouldn’t believe possible. The 6’4, 280-pound physical specimen, hailing from Batie, a small village in Cameroon, Africa, grew up working in a sand quarry starting from the age of 10. At 22 years old, harboring a dream to box, Francis decided to leave on foot across the Sahara, traveling on raft across the Strait of Gibraltar on a life-threatening journey, only to find himself homeless on the streets of Paris, walking into a gym. It didn’t take long for his coaches and peers there to realize his raw talents and God-given power to knock people out.
He was encouraged to enter an MMA tournament to make some extra cash in November 2013, and less than 8 years later, Francis would become the UFC’s first-ever African Heavyweight Champion, knocking out arguably the greatest Heavyweight in UFC History, Stipe Miocic, spectacularly in the second round. In January 2022, Ngannou defended his title against the undefeated interim UFC Champion Ciryl Gane, winning the fight via unanimous decision, all while fighting on a torn ACL and MCL against doctors’ guidance.
In late 2022, Ngannou decided to enter free agency and departed the UFC following the end of his contract, subsequently signing an unprecedented mega-deal as a global strategic partner with global MMA co-leader Professional Fighters League (PFL) and their Super Fights Division in 2023, further serving as the Chairman of PFL Africa, set to launch in 2025.