We all know we will not now see the heavily anticipated heavyweight unification showdown between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk this year. Heck, plenty of people felt very strongly we wouldn’t see that fight on the talked of date of December 23 even before Francis Ngannou came along and shocked the world, this by dropping Fury in their fight of October 28, with Ngannou also busting Fury up some and sending him home in need of a far longer rest than one of just six or seven weeks. We are now told the four-belt showdown will happen in February, but again, this fight is very much one that has left fans with an ‘I’ll believe it when they’re both in the ring’ attitude.
But could there still be a big heavyweight card taking place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on December 23? According to a tantalising news story from UK Boxing News, yes, there very much could be. According to the website of the trade paper that has been going since 1909, the Saudis are “still plotting a huge, money-spinning card on December 23 to mark the middle of Riyadh season.”
So, who could feature on the December 23 card now that Usyk and Fury are out? According to the sources the folks at B/N have been hearing from, Francis Ngannou, in his second heavyweight fight, is “highly likely to top the bill.” And get this, both Zhilei Zhang and Joseph Parker are “touted as opponents for the 37 year old former UFC heavyweight champion.”
If this news turns out to be true, then we fans will have a potentially great end of the year night, one that will see the year out with a bang. And there’s more. Also in the Boxing News story, is word that Martin Bakole and Moses Itauma, both of whom saw action on last Saturday’s card in Riyadh, could also feature on the December 23 card.
This might all seem a little too good to be true for some people, however. Will Ngannou really fight again just seven weeks after his epic fight with Fury? Will either Zhang or Parker be his dance partner if he does make a quick return to the ring? The powerful money men in Saudi Arabia are used to getting what they want, and if they still want a big heavyweight card to happen on December 23, then maybe this will indeed happen.
It goes without saying how we fight fans hope this does come off.