RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Eric Nicksick is aware of the criticism and talk surrounding Francis Ngannou’s dive into the boxing world, but he assures the critics the former UFC heavyweight champion is in it to win it, not just collect a big payday.
Nicksick, head coach at Xtreme Couture, sees Ngannou motivated and dialed in ahead of his colossal boxing match against WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury this Saturday. The two clash in a 10-round, non-title bout under professional boxing rules.
Nicksick says Ngannou’s mind is right where it needs to be to pull off one of the biggest upsets in combat sports history.
“He’s taking this very seriously, and I think that you hear some of those things, and we’re not big on reading the comment section or anything like that, but we obviously are going to feel it, are going to hear it, and I think that’s motivated him extra to work hard,” Nicksick told MMA Junkie. “Being at all his training sessions and watching him put all the work he’s put in, he’s taking this very seriously. I think you have to. You don’t want to show up to this opportunity and just think, ‘I’m just happy to be here and make some money.’
“I was telling the team that I’m looking forward to seeing all his improvement he’s had in the boxing game, how he can later on apply it in the future for when we do MMA.”
Ngannou is fulfilling a long-time goal of his on Saturday. He’s been wanting to box Fury for years, but being under contract with the UFC stopped him from making the fight happen.
In unprecedented circumstances, Ngannou walked away from the UFC earlier this year after fighting out his contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion as champion.
Nicksick is extremely happy and proud of Ngannou and his determination to get this opportunity.
“I’m excited for him, and it’s crazy to think that four or five years ago Francis was talking about this dream and this aspiration, and now we’re days away from this becoming true for him.”
He later added,
“It’s just cool to see your boy in the spotlight and just being put out there and the promotion and everything else around it. It’s been really cool, they’ve done a great job and I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
For more on the matchup, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Fury vs. Ngannou.