TYSON FURY TRIUMPHED in the Battle of the Baddest against Francis Ngannou in Riyadh with a cliffhanger split decision falling in his favour after 10 rounds.

Shock descended on the arena when Fury was put to the deck and thoughts of an unimaginable upset began to surface.

The opening two rounds were a little bit cat and mouse as Fury stalked his unfamiliar foe, who himself was adopting a surprisingly patient approach. Ngannou was giving as good as he got, without really committing to all-out attack.

The fight boomed into life towards the end of the third when Ngannou landed a left hook to the temple of Fury’s head and the champion was put to the canvas, to audible dismay around the arena.

Ngannou was robust and organised in what he was doing. His defence was solid and his main attribute obvious.

Fury landed a meaty right in the fifth as he began to establish something of a foothold in the fight. The following couple of rounds weren’t particularly eventful as Fury attempted to fathom out such an awkward and powerful proposition.

The question was, other than the knockdown, who was winning the rounds?

The three judges declared the fight 95-94 to Ngannou followed by 96-93 and 95-94 to Fury.

“That definitely wasn’t in the script!” said Fury afterwards. “Francis is a helluva fighter and a lot better a boxer than we all thought he would ever be. He is a very awkward man, a good puncher and I respect him a lot – before the fight and afterwards.

“He has given me probably one of my toughest fights in the last 10 years. I got caught behind the head again, I was alright and I got back to my boxing.

“I don’t know how close it was, but I got the win.”

Fabio Wardley retained his British title and won the vacant Commonwealth championship via a stoppage defeat of David Adeleye in the seventh round of the highly-anticipated grudge match.

It was nip and tuck across the first three rounds, with probably Adeleye landing the more telling blows, although Wardley appeared to be getting more to grips with the fight in the third.

Neither man was committing to all-out warfare and Adeleye seemed content to try and draw Wardley in close so he could get to work inside. For his part, Wardley presented more danger on the outside.

Wardley delivered the far more accurate work in the fifth, but it was Adeleye who landed a big bomb at the beginning of the sixth. However, it was Wardley getting stronger in the fight.

The rhythm of the fight was reinforced in the seventh when a mighty left hook from Wardley knocked down Adeleye and, although he got up a nine, he was unsteady and referee John Latham needed a little convincing to let him continue.

Wardley launched an assault, Adeleye’s legs were out of sync and referee Latham had seen enough and stepped in on 2.43 of the round.

Joseph Parker won a title-double in the IBF and WBO Intercontinental belts with a convincing third round stoppage of Simon Kean.

The former WBO world champion (33-3, 23) bossed the man known as The Grizzly and puts himself right back into the major championship picture.

Both men exchanged heavy fire across the opening two rounds, with Parker being the most effective and Kean looking a little ragged as the second round drew to a close.

The New Zealander cranked up the pressure in the third and rattled his Canadian opponent before a classic and vicious right uppercut put Kean down and he was duly counted out by referee Bob Williams on 2.03.

The Montreal-based Russian Arslanbek Makhmudov obliterated his American opponent Junior Anthony Wright with two stunning right handers to record a 17th stoppage win in 18 pro fights to retain his NABF title and win the vacant WBA Intercontinental belt.

Makhmudov dispatched Wright to the floor with a clumping right followed up by a left hook and referee Steve Gray thought long and hard about letting him continue. When another right landed and stunned Wright, Mr Gray stepped in and halted proceedings with just 1.10 on the clock.

Moses Itauma exploded to 6-0 as a professional with a blistering destruction of Istvan Bernath. The Chatham world amateur champion dumped the Hungarian to the canvas in 90 seconds with a short right before unleashing an uppercut and right hand to close the show on 1.53, with referee John Latham calling time.

“Shoot me to the stars, that’s where I belong,” enthused the 18-year-old post-fight. “It’s only gonna get better.”

In the heavyweight opener, Martin Bakole (20-1, 15) reinforced his credentials at the top of the spectrum with a resounding defeat of the veteran Carlos Takam.

Looking heavy at nearly 300lbs due to a back injury that reduced his training, the personable Congolese upped his output from the beginning of the third round and pummelled the Frenchman, who quickly looked on unsteady legs.

In round four, Bakole landed a right to the body that accelerated the demise of Takam and then a blow to the temple resulted in referee Lee Every stepping in to stop the fight with 2.15 of the round completed.

At super welterweight, Liverpool’s Jack McGann extended his winning record to 9-0-1 with a second round stoppage of Roberto Duran jr.

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