Mike Tyson Paid ‘Handsomely’ by Saudia Arabia to Pose as Ngannou’s Trainer for Fury Fight

One of the most intriguing aspects of Saturday’s fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou is Mike Tyson’s behind-the-scenes work with Ngannou. According to Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, the presence of the legendary former champion is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. 

The Match Made in Combat Heaven

As Ngannou prepares to face the undefeated Fury in his professional boxing debut, Mike Tyson has reportedly been training the lineal heavyweight MMA king. The two historic heavy hitters have made several public appearances together including joint interviews on major platforms such as Complex and ESPN’s First Take

On the latter, Ngannou described bringing the decorated vet into his camp as “one of the best decisions” he could ever make in preparing for the tall task of facing Fury.

Just last month, “Iron” Mike even led a media workout in Las Vegas for Ngannou, directing pad work and giving him guidance during a light sparring session. In addition to being in his corner for this weekend’s crossover bout, Mike Tyson has also served as the former UFC champion’s most vocal supporter during the promotional press run.

Was It All an Act?

Also Read: Roy Jones Jr. Praises Francis Ngannou’s Prep for Tyson Fury Fight, Outlines Path to Victory on Oct. 28

A tweet from Iole this week suggested that the support is simply a show being funded by Saudia Arabia, which is also hosting the event in its capital city Riyadh.

“The Saudis have paid Mike Tyson to act as Francis Ngannou’s trainer (very, Very, VERY handsomely, I’m told),” Iole wrote. After a reply that highlighted the phrase “to act as,” he responded with, “He hasn’t trained Francis but they figured his presence would bring attention to the event. Dewey Cooper trained him.”

Cooper, a well-traveled combat sports veteran turned high-level striking coach, has been a mainstay at Xtreme Couture and helped guide Ngannou to his pair of UFC title fight victories. 

In addition to apparently orchestrating Mike Tyson’s role in Ngannou’s training camp, Iole also stated that Saudia Arabia is footing the bill for a who’s who of boxing royalty to show up for the event, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Roberto Duran, George Foreman and Tommy “Hitman” Hearns among them.

Mike Tyson Part of a Larger Plan?

The reveal is just the latest example of Saudia Arabia devoting significant resources to combat sports. In August, a company created by the country’s Public Investment Fund, SRJ Sports Investments, acquired a minority stake in the Professional Fighter’s League, the same promotion that signed Ngannou for his future MMA endeavors

In November of 2019, the WWE, which recently merged with the UFC under the ownership of Endeavor, announced an expanded partnership with the nation to host large-scale events. Days before, Fury made his professional wrestling debut there as well. 

Related: UFC fighters, managers, and coaches weigh in on an MMA power shift from PFL getting Saudi funding

Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou will meet this Saturday at the Mohammed Abdu Arena in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia. The event will begin at 2 PM ET and is available in the United States exclusively on ESPN+ pay-per-view.

Ant Walker is a native of the Washington DC area that now lives in Los Angeles. He has been... More about Anthony Walker

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