World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury beat mixed martial arts fighter Francis Ngannou in a split decision after their boxing bout went the distance in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
Ngannou knocked Fury down in round three but the 35-year-old British fighter, though shaken, was able to continue.
The undefeated Fury earlier this week laughed off his opponent as a “big fat sausage” but afterward acknowledged that the 37-year-old Cameroonian had effectively kept him off-balance.
“He’s a very awkward man, and he’s a good puncher and I respect him a lot,” Fury said of Ngannou, adding that it was “probably one of the toughest” fights he has had in a decade.
Fury was the overwhelming favourite against boxing novice Ngannou.
“This was my first boxing match, great experience – I’m not giving any excuse,” Ngannou said in a ringside interview.
“I know I come up short, I’m going to come back and work harder… now I know I can do this.