TYSON FURY had to climb off the canvas and rely on the judges to rescue his £150 million Fight of the Century and undisputed heavyweight world title decider with Oleksandr Usyk.
The Gypsy King was decked by the African Adonis in the third and badly bruised by the professional boxing debutant and looked destined for utter disaster.
But he was saved by shocking judges who somehow called the one-sided showdown: 95-94 Ngannou, 96-93 Fury and 95-94 Fury.
A luck Fury admitted: “That definitely wasn’t in the script. Francis is a hell of a fighter.
“He’s strong, he’s a big puncher and a lot better boxer than we thought he’d ever be.”
The 35-year-old added: “He’s a very awkward man and he’s a very good puncher.
“And I respect him a lot, before the fight and after the fight.”
The Saudi Arabia showbiz throwdown between the undefeated WBC champion and Cameroon’s 37-year-old MMA fighter – who never saw the inside of a professional gym until he was 22 – was supposed to be a mismatch.
Ngannou – who made a life-changing £8m for his family for generations – almost ripped up the script by chasing Fury all over Riyadh and peppering with blows.
Dad John had his boy’s WBC world title belt over his shoulder but it was not on the line but – thanks to a late deal done by the British Boxing Board of Control – Fury’s undefeated record was.
Ngannou had Mike Tyson – who Fury was named after – in his corner, more as a cheerleader and promotional tool than trainer. The MMA man-mountain said: “We can run it back again and I’m sure I’m gonna get better.
“This was my first boxing match, [it was] a great experience.
“I’m not giving any excuses, I know I came up short. But I’m gonna go back and work harder.
“And with a little bit more experience and a little more feeling for the game and come back even stronger.” – The Sun