Longtime British boxing promoter Frank Warren has announced that former lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (25-0, 19 KOs) will return to the ring on June 9 at the Manchester Arena against an opponent to be named. Fury, who is 29 but looks older than his years, last fought on Nov. 25, 2015, when he ended the Wladimir Klitschko era, outpointing the Ukrainian in Dusseldorf, Germany.
In Great Britain, some overheated folks hailed Fury’s performance vs. Klitschko as a slick piece of work, a fistic masterpiece. Those folks likely didn’t see the fight; only read a paragraph or two about it. Thomas Hauser provided a more sober assessment. It was, said Hauser, “a stultifyingly, horribly boring fight…There were rounds that were hard to score for either fighter because Fury did nothing and Klitschko, if such a thing were possible, did sub-nothing.”
Regardless, the self-styled Gypsy King brought home the bacon to a country that was then starving for a homegrown lineal heavyweight champion and, to his credit, he did it on the road against a fighter that hadn’t lost in 11 years and had made 18 successful heavyweight title defenses, a mark exceeded by only Joe Louis.
The rematch was scheduled for July 9, 2016, in Manchester, but Fury pulled out, citing an ankle injury, and the match was postponed. Fury-Klitschko II was re-scheduled for Oct. 29 in Manchester, but that match fell out too because Fury was emotionally and physically unfit to fight; he had put on an enormous amount of weight. The previous month he had tested positive for the main ingredient in cocaine. He subsequently relinquished his WBA and WBO title belts to seek professional help for his issues and had his boxing license suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control. The suspension was lifted in December of last year when Fury accepted a back-dated two-year ban.
Tyson Fury has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way with his intemperate remarks, but in the main he is one of the most popular athletes in all of Great Britain. The six-foot-nine galoot has a snarky sense of humor and an insouciant, devil-may-care air about him that many find refreshing. In a nutshell, he has the “it” factor. Today’s announcement that he would be returning to the ring was front page news in some of the U.K. tabloids and created a storm on social media where Fury has 891,000 followers on twitter.
While he was inactive, Fury kept the pot boiling by demeaning the heavyweights that came to the fore in his absence, notably countryman Anthony Joshua. “He will be my easiest fight,” says Fury of AJ. As for Deontay Wilder, Fury says, “When I get him in the ring, I’ll really give him a good hiding.”
Fury was previously coached by his uncle, Peter Fury, but a new trainer, Ben Davison, will be in his corner on June 9. The precocious Davison, 25, also works with WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders who, like Fury, is a member of the Irish Traveler community.
There’s no word on who Fury’s opponent will be, but late last year Shannon Briggs said that he had a deal in place to be Fury’s first comeback opponent. Briggs, like Fury, has been inactive – he last fought in May of 2016 – and, like Fury, he is a former lineal heavyweight champion (a distinction he held for only five months). He’s won nine straight, but against a motley assortment of opponents, and may have trouble getting licensed as he is 46 years old.
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