Heavyweight boxing

Boxer Tyson Fury will be back in June to liven up the heavyweight ranks; announces next opponent

The former undisputed world champion will face Albania’s Sefer Seferia in his June 9 comeback fight

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 10:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 May, 2018, 10:06pm

Sports fans in the United States and many other countries had only just gotten to know talkative British boxer Tyson Fury before he fell off the radar a couple of years ago. However, after not fighting since his stunning 2015 upset of Wladimir Klitschko, Fury is set to return to the ring next month, and not a moment too soon to liven up the heavyweight ranks.

The 29-year-old Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) will take on Albania’s Sefer Seferia (23-1, 0 KOs) on June 9 in his hometown of Manchester. The 39-year-old cruiserweight shouldn’t pose too much of a problem to his much larger opponent, and if a couple of fights later in the year go well for Fury, he could be in line for a lucrative 2019 showdown against Anthony Joshua, the IBF, WBA (Super) and WBO heavyweight champion who is also from England.

“Me against him will be the biggest fight ever, the Achilles and Hector of today,” Fury said Sunday. Joshua won two of his titles in his own defeat of Klitschko in 2016, after Fury vacated them in the wake of failed drug tests and reports of battles with personal issues.

“In November 2015, I became the best heavyweight fighter in my era at the time,” Fury said last month, referring to his defeat of Klitschko. “That was the end of it for me. It took over two and a half years to get that fire back. I didn’t think it was coming.

“I thought, ‘What is going on?’ Every time I went to the pub and had 10 pints, I thought ‘Yeah, I want to fight tonight.’ But in hindsight, I needed to get out of that environment, get away from all that, get my head back and get focused.”

Fury now has a new trainer, Ben Davison, after he parted ways with his uncle, Peter Fury, and a new promoter, Frank Warren, who said on Sunday his fighter was “in fantastic shape and full of beans, ready to take the first step on the road back toward world domination once again.” Warren added, “He needs comeback fights in order to shake off the ring rust after such a lengthy absence, and I am sure the fans will once again enjoy the ride back to the top.”

“I can’t wait to get in there and prove that I’m a better fighter than I’ve ever been,” said Fury. “I’m coming into the prime of my career now and I’ve never felt better. I’m fitter, stronger and faster than the Fury of 2015.”

That’s a far cry from where Fury was a year ago, when, by his own estimate, he was about 45 kilograms heavier than his fighting weight of 115kg. He was also depressed about his fall from grace and, in the midst of a two-year doping ban, all but retired.

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Then, Fury said in April, he heard that WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder had claimed he was “done,” and that sparked an unsparing self-appraisal. “I thought, ‘You know what, I’m a fat pig. Look at the state of me,’” Fury said. “I felt like jumping in the water and drowning.”

“Then I thought, ‘I’m going to turn this around and knock him out,’” he added of Wilder, an Alabama-native who has held the WBC belt since 2015 and who is 40-0 with 39 knockouts.

Fury and his camp are understandably pointing him toward a mega-bout with Joshua, his countryman who is widely considered the top heavyweight in the world. A showdown with Wilder, though, would also be hugely appealing to boxing fans, as long as Fury holds up his end of the bargain by returning to form.

“I can tie one hand behind my back and beat Wilder,” Fury said last month. “They can pick which one they want; left hand, right hand.”

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It’s already apparent that the gregarious Fury has lost none of his penchant for bravado, which can only be a good thing for his sport and for the heavyweight division in particular, given that it is still regarded as boxing’s most glamorous stratum but has long ceded much of the spotlight to fighters in lower weight classes.

“Boxing never meant much to me before,” Fury said on Sunday. “It was strictly business – but this time it will be fun for me and entertainment for everyone.”