The legendary boxing trainer made a detailed breakdown of the Fury vs. Ngannou matchup this Saturday in Saudi Arabia, and essentially laid out why Ngannou is not fully out of the competition despite being out of his element. Atlas said on Tuesday on his podcast, THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas, that Ngannou could pull off the upset.
“There should be only one winner, the boxer, because he’s been boxing his whole life at a high level,” Atlas said. “So I’m here to say, yeah, it might be one-sided. It might turn out that way, just like the McGregor-Mayweather could’ve turned out that way, but I’m not so sure.”
Below, Atlas breaks down the factors that he believes make the former UFC heavyweight champion a live dog in this boxing match against Fury, and what Ngannou can do to further his chances:
Francis Ngannou's power and toughness
Francis Ngannou's ability to quickly learn technique
As if Francis Ngannou wasn’t terrifying enough in the octagon
Now he’s got Teddy Atlas helping him out pic.twitter.com/vCRo2HXa9B
— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) September 29, 2020
There’s no debating that Fury is going to be the more experienced and better boxer on Saturday, as Ngannou just has an immense ground to make up if he wishes to match Fury’s skill level.
However, Atlas believes can make up a good amount of ground in technique, as he’s seen it personally, and in his fights against former UFC champion Stipe Miocic. It alone may not be enough to beat Fury, but paired with other factors, could be key.
“I’ve been in the ring with him. The tape is out there, it’s got millions of views. He had asked me to train him for one day, and I obliged. I was in Vegas, I went to his gym, and I trained him for one day. I saw firsthand, not only his power which anyone could see, but I saw his athleticism and I saw that he was smart. He picked up some things. He did. In a little short period, I showed him a few things, and he started picking them up.
“I saw the advancements that he made in the striking for the Stipe (rematch) when he won the UFC heavyweight belt against, at the time, the greatest heavyweight of all time. … When Ngannou fought Stipe, first of all, he had to be better, not just strong, he had to be better to beat Stipe and he was better. He improved. He was better. So it shows you he learns, he picks up things, he evolves and adds to his repertoire. He’s coachable.”
Has Tyson Fury been taking Francis Ngannou seriously?
The prediction of Ngannou upsetting Fury is not one you will often find among the combat sports fanbase. However, this could lead Fury to get overconfident, as on paper, Ngannou is likely the easiest challenge of his career.
Atlas warns Fury to not overlook Ngannou. He believes that an out-of-shape and overconfident Fury can end up victim to Ngannou’s punching power.
“It comes down to how serious did Fury take this event, this moneymaker. How serious was he? We saw some early pictures where he didn’t look great. He never looks like an Adonis. His body is not made up that way. He never looks like Hercules, but you know when he’s in shape and when he’s not in good shape. He didn’t look in good shape. I said to his manager, straight up, (he looks like) the Pillsbury Doughboy in the pictures that we have seen.
“He’s had a lot of time to get in shape since then and I haven’t seen any pictures of him recently, so I’m going to assume he’s in the right kind of shape, but the mind. Did he take this seriously or in a way the 90 percent of the people are taking it? ‘I should dominate. I should have no problem with the guy.’ If taking for granted that Ngannou is just being fed to the lions, he can get caught. He can have a surprise.”
Atlas places a big emphasis on developing an unorthodox technique that can catch Fury off guard. If he were helping Ngannou prepare, he’d bring an element of surprise to the ring.
After all, Fury knows all the ins and outs of boxing, but thinking outside the box can help Ngannou in this contest, and Atlas says to look out for these types of attacks from Ngannou.
“If I were training him, I would’ve been teaching him some tricks because he’s an underdog, and he’s going to need some trick to pull off the upset. What do I mean by a trick? Some kind of disguise, something that we teach fighters where you can catch a guy because you make him think something else is going to happen, and then this happens.
“Maybe you slip to your left, as you slip to the left, you try to get his eyes to go looking for a left hook, and you shoot a right hand. Maybe you bend low, you throw a right hand to the body, and then you bend low, and then you throw the right hand on top, and you catch him. … There’s got to be a trick, something.”