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Francis Ngannou Gets Moved Down The WBC HW Rankings From #10 To #24, WBC Continues Its Mockery Of The Sport

Francis Ngannou Gets Moved Down The WBC HW Rankings From #10 To #24 featured image
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - OCTOBER 28: Francis Ngannou speaks to fans after defeat in the Heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou at Boulevard Hall on October 28, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Francis Ngannou is no longer considered a top 10 heavyweight according to the WBC after the latest update of their rankings revealed Ngannou to have dropped from the #10 spot down to #24 following the devastating loss he suffered recently on March 8th against Anthony Joshua. The initial placement of Ngannou in the WBC’s rankings presented a number of issues given his lack of experience in the sport and the presence of other heavyweights he leapt over, yet these issues have not abated as Ngannou continues to be rated over heavyweights with years of experience and hard work―despite the astronomical drop in rankings.

With Francis Ngannou (0-2, 0 KO’s) now positioned at #24, the WBC has not exactly rectified a problem they caused in the first place by legitimizing Ngannou as a top 10 fighter following a split-decision loss to Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO’s) on October 29th last year. That initial move by the WBC already exposed a core problem with the sanctioning body’s ranking system, having opted to officially rank a 0-1 fighter over any other deserving heavyweight whose only detriment had been not being popular enough.

While Francis Nganou had performed better than expected against Tyson Fury on October 28th―who was arguably not at his best on fight night, managing to only lose by a controversial split-decision in a match he had been expected to lose handily, there still was not enough just cause for him to enter the top 10 rankings, which was thought to be based on merit.

To clarify, no professional boxer in recent history [the past two decades] have entered any of the sanctioning body’s top 10 rankings coming off of a loss. While the nature of this loss was contentious with there having been several indicators pointing to an actual win for Francis Ngannou, the WBC did not directly challenge the notion that Fury’s win was unjust and based their rankings on the performance Ngannou put in; which does not exactly mean Ngannou fulfilled all the requirements expected of a top 10 heavyweight.

The entire ranking system of the WBC is now heavily under question, with the sanctioning body having chosen to justify rather than correct their decision to rank Ngannou as a top 10 heavyweight last year, intentionally misleading the public to paint their choice as one made by merit based on Ngannou’s performance during one match, all while not having granted any professional boxer such privilege during the entirety of Mauricio Sulaiman’s reign as WBC president.

From the onset, it seemed blatant that the WBC’s decision was based on Francis Ngannou’s popularity as a fighter rather than his performance―with him being recognized as one of the most prevalent UFC heavyweights of the modern era, which only put the sanctioning body’s credibility on the line.

However, their decision affected a core part of the sport revolving around competitiveness, with heavyweights who have dedicated years to the sport being overlooked over one performance by Ngannou who had an actual [though disputable] loss when he was ranked. Regardless of how Ngannou performed, the WBC has created a specific list of criteria that determine the ranking of a fighter―criteria that aren’t based on just one single performance.

WBC Ignores Plethora Of Active And Winning Heavyweights To Rank Part-time MMA Fighter Francis Ngannou In Its Top 10 image 2
Article 6.6 of the WBC’s “Rules and Regulations”.

As can be observed above, there are at least eleven factors which are taken into account when a fighter is ranked, yet the WBC opted to hone in on only a couple when deciding to rank Francis Ngannou as a top 10 fighter, suggesting their decision was based on anything but merit.

Moreover, there is not any substantial gain for the WBC when ranking fighters in the top 10, as they draw their sanctioning fees from champions rather than contenders. To put things into perspective, this essentially means that the WBC virtually opted to consider Ngannou a legitimate top 10 heavyweight following a loss all while deriving actual competing and mostly full-time heavyweights from a deserved spot that they gave to Ngannou―who does not have the luxury to be a full-time boxer as he is contracted to fight in the PFL sometime this year.

In that sense, the competitiveness and landscape of heavyweight boxing has been negatively impacted by the WBC’s decision; a decision which they seemed to want to rectify by recently dropping Francis Ngannou to #24 following his March 8th knockout (KO) loss to Anthony Joshua (28-3, 25 KO’s).

However, despite this recent decision by the WBC to lower Ngannou’s placement in their heavyweight rankings, the fact Francis Ngannou is still ranked is a persistent issue that the WBC has not chosen to address. Following Ngannou’s devastating second-round loss to Joshua, it would be rational for the WBC to commit to their own ratings criteria and acknowledge the Cameroonian would need several more fights at least to be considered for their top 40 rankings.

Francis Ngannou Gets Moved Down The WBC HW Rankings From #10 To #24 image 1
Francis Ngannou positioned as #24 in the WBC’s heavyweight rankings as of March 19th, 2024.

This is not only to stimulate Ngannou to commit to the sport, but also not to deprive other heavyweights who do not have the luxury of popularity or fame to be afforded opportunities against heavyweight champions or top contenders. Furthermore, the WBC’s ratings criteria should be adapted accordingly as Ngannou has yet to fight in a twelve-round bout―which should be considered as one of the factors for a fighter to be ranked in the top 10.

Even in regards to being considered a top 30 heavyweight, Ngannou has simply not committed long enough to the sport to be deserving of even his #27 position. Moreover, other criteria that determine a fighter’s ranking, such as experience in elimination or championship bouts, do not signify Ngannou is yet qualified to even be ranked.

Going forward, the WBC must analyze its own criteria more thoroughly and eliminate this current tendency to favor fighters coming in from other sports without them having even done so much as win a single boxing match. Boxing is still considered a serious sport that can lead to permanent injuries, and for that reason the WBC should be much more stringent with their criteria to ensure fighters are suitably ranked to prevent them from being mismatched with the wrong opponent.

Additionally, heavyweight boxing in no way profits from Ngannou’s position on the rankings due to him likely becoming unavailable as a boxer in the near future due to his contract with the PFL. Despite one of the criteria that the WBC holds for ranking fighters pertaining to their combat experience outside of boxing, this only further illustrates the WBC is not competent enough to rate fighters, as every combat sport is different and should not be taken into account given boxing is simply different from other combat sports―in the same manner any other combat sport differs from one another.