Malik Scott recognizes that Francis Ngannou can punch.
Deontay Wilder’s trainer finds it hard to believe, however, that the former UFC heavyweight champion can hit harder while wearing 10-ounce gloves than the most pulverizing puncher of this era. Scott pointed to Wilder’s track record while discussing Ngannou’s power during an interview with BoxingScene.com.
Scott, a retired heavyweight, did admit that Ngannou will pose at least some sort of threat to the heavily favored Fury in their 10-round fight Saturday night due to the 6-foot-4, 258-pound boxing novice’s power.
“Francis Ngannou is a big threat,” Scott said. “He punches hard. He doesn’t punch harder, in my opinion, than Deontay Wilder. And why would I say that? I seen what Francis done to guys with basically six ounces on [in MMA matches]. I don’t know what he’ll do to guys with 10 ounces on. I don’t know how he’s looking in sparring.
“But I can tell you in sparring I’ve seen Deontay give grown men seizures, where they had to get them out to the ER immediately. I done seen, with 10 ounces on, what Deontay have done, just like you all have, comatose fighters. This is just not in fights Deontay does this. This is in the gym. I don’t know how Francis is looking as a boxer, but I know if you get him in a cage he may be the hardest puncher in the world. But as far as boxing, with 20 ounces on [in sparring], with 10 ounces on [in fights], on an everyday basis, he’s not proven like that yet.”
Scott stressed that he wasn’t hating on Ngannou, just that there is no factual basis for those that insist Ngannou punches harder than Wilder, who floored Fury twice apiece in their first and third title fights. Wilder has also won an unusually high 91 percent of his 46 professional boxing matches by knockout (43-2-1, 42 KOs).
“I’m not an idol worshiper,” Scott said. “I respect everybody, but you’ve gotta prove yourself to me when it comes to certain topics. And this is a topic where he has to prove himself. I’ve never seen Francis do damage in 10 ounces or 20 ounces or nothing like that. But we’re gonna see cuz, unfortunately for him, whatever damage he is gonna do he’s about to be in with one of the best heavyweights in the last 40 years. And I doubt if he’s even able to get in a good position even to land anything.”
England’s Fury understandably has been installed as a 20-1 favorite to beat Ngannou, who will make his pro boxing debut in their pay-per-view main event at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. While Fury is undoubtedly a better boxer than Ngannou, Scott expects Fury to be aggressive against someone seemingly who can win only if he lands a flush right hand that affects Fury.
“Why not? He stood and traded with Deontay Wilder,” Scott said. “Francis is gonna try to come out like a boxer, which to me is most UFC guys’ problem. When they get into a boxing ring, they try to become boxers, and that makes them more liable to get hit with big shots. They’re better off being wild because no one can counter them and no one can see where the punches is coming from.
“But if he’s gonna get in the ring with one of the best boxers of the last 40 years, and he’s gonna try to work on his boxing technique, the only thing he has is a puncher’s chance. But he has a puncher’s chance against someone who’s been in with the hardest puncher in the history of the sport. It just doesn’t make sense.”
The 35-year-old Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs), who stopped Wilder in the seventh round of their rematch and violently knocked him out in the 11th round of their third bout, is already contractually committed to a title unification fight against IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champ Oleksandr Usyk (21-0, 14 KOs). Fury-Ngannou will be the main event of five-fight pay-per-shows in the United Kingdom (£21.95; 7 p.m. BST) and the United States ($79.99; 2 p.m. EDT; 11 a.m. PDT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.