WBC Defends Giving Francis Ngannou A Top 10 Heavyweight Ranking

March 15, 2024
2 months
Francis Ngannou

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has defended the organization’s decision to award Francis Ngannou a top-10 heavyweight ranking following the Cameroonian’s crushing defeat to Anthony Joshua.

Competing in just his second professional boxing bout, former UFC heavyweight champion Ngannou was destroyed by Joshua, getting floored in the first round and again in the second before getting knocked out cold.

Ngannou had earned his bout with Joshua following an impressive debut against Tyson Fury last October when he knocked down the WBC and lineal heavyweight champion in the third round on the way to losing a narrow split decision.

That performance against Fury prompted the WBC to give Ngannou an official ranking among the heavyweights and placed him in the top 10 – a decision that has now been met with criticism since his destruction at the hands of Joshua last week in Saudi Arabia.

Ngannou Ranked ‘By Facts’

However, Sulaiman stands by the WBC’s decision, telling Sky Sports: “100 percent [we stand by the decision to rank him in the top 10], just by facts. Everybody criticized the WBC, myself, the ratings committee.

“They jumped the gun and a month later the fight is announced against Joshua and nobody said anything. It is about tendency, we don’t go or rule or make decisions by popularity. It is not a popularity contest.

“We go by facts, by rules and the ranking of Ngannou was perfectly supported by the WBC rules which is clear in the criteria from rankings that we consider the activity of the fighter in other contact sports. We have ranked so many muay thai fighters that convert to international boxing.”

After the defeat to Joshua, Ngannou insisted he would not give up on his boxing career – something his two-time world champion opponent also urged him to do after their fight last Friday.

The Cameroonian is one of the biggest names in MMA and won the UFC heavyweight championship in March 2021. He defended the title once before leaving the UFC after failing to agree terms on a new contract. Ngannou has since signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), and as part of his contract, he is allowed to pursue other opportunities, including boxing.

Sulaiman ‘Stands By’ Ranking

Sulaiman agrees that Ngannou should continue boxing and believes he should not be judged solely on his defeat to Joshua – a fighter who is one of the top three heavyweights in the world.

“Nobody says anything but then Ngannou is such a big name it becomes a controversy and then comes Joshua and knocks him out in two rounds,” said Sulaiman. “[Joe] Frazier was knocked out in two rounds by [George] Foreman. Does that make Frazier a bad fighter that should have not been the champion after beating [Muhammad] Ali?

“Ngannou came close to beating the WBC champion Fury, knocked him down, and it was close to a split decision. Joshua looked great, that is why he is the No 1-ranked contender in the WBC and I stand by the ranking of Ngannou. We are doing the rankings for this month as we speak and we will see where the committee places Ngannou.”

While Ngannou remains committed to his boxing career, he is first expected to return to the cage and make his PFL debut against heavyweight champion Renan Ferreira, who crushed Bellator heavyweight title holder Ryan Bader in 21 seconds in his last fight.