UFC star Tom Aspinall has welcomed a prospective crossover bout between world heavyweight champions Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou, but believes aspects of mixed martial arts must be included in order to make it a worthwhile contest.
Ngannou joined Fury in the ring following the Gypsy King’s knockout victory over Dillian Whyte in April as the pair seemingly agreed on a mixed-rules contest envisioned for 2023.
The pair have long-been linked to a hybrid showdown, Ngannou’s desire to channel his boxing roots and Fury’s supposed retirement from professional boxing appearing to pave the way for an exhibition.
While the UFC man presents undisputed punch power, Aspinall has encouraged the inclusion of kicks as a minimum in order to level the playing field.
“I would be interested to see if them two fought, I’d like to see the fight, that would be awesome,” Aspinall told Sky Sports.
“Little gloves for sure, five-minute rounds, that would make it a little bit even. I think they should do like first round boxing only, second round like boxing and low kicks and third round boxing, low kicks and clinching, something like that would make it a bit more even.
“If it’s going to be boxing with little gloves on I think it makes it more even to a degree but still, you’re talking about one of the best boxers that has ever lived. The chances are still pretty small.
“Obviously Ngannou hits like an absolute truck, he still has a puncher’s chance, bit if you put a couple of kicks in there and a bit of clinching and give minute rounds it would even it out a bit.”
Fury has previously been filmed training with British UFC middleweight Darren Till, wearing mixed martial arts gloves while throwing knees and elbows in a high-intensity pad session.
“I’ve grappled with him [Fury] before, he’s interested in it,” added Aspinall. “I know he’s done bits of grappling, bits of kicks before, he was down in our gym training.
“He’s definitely got an interest in it. I’d love to see it though.”
Crossover bouts have become a familiar pursuit across combat sport, with undisputed light-middleweight champion Claressa Shields stepping into MMA and Kamaru Usman previously voicing his desire to take on Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, much to the disapproval of UFC president Dana Whyte.
The lucrative financial rewards of such an event were underlined when Floyd Mayweather Jr faced off with Conor McGregor in 2017, with boxing’s hefty fight purses serving as a key reason behind Ngannou’s desire for any potential new contract with UFC to grant him the freedom to jump between the two disciplines.
Aspinall, however, has warned against fighters underestimating a difficult transition.
“If he [Fury] wants to fight in the UFC under UFC rules I think he’d need a couple of years to prepare at least,” said Aspinall.
“The switch between boxing and MMA is much more difficult than people think, I think for an MMA fighter to think they can go across and box world class boxers is ignorant and the other way around. It’s ignorant thinking.
“I love to box, but I’d need a year at least to just box. It’s quite the transition.”