Despite shedding more than eight stones to get himself back into fighting shape, Tyson Fury will carry a significant advantage into his comeback bout against Albanian Sefer Seferi in Manchester on Saturday.
Fury weighed in at 19st 10lbs at a good-natured weigh-in on Friday, making him a full four stones and nine pounds heavier than Seferi, whom he whisked off his feet and cradled in his arms as if to labour the point.
His weight makes Fury more than stones heavier that he was for his last fight against Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, in which he won the world heavyweight title before his career threatened to spiral out of control.
Fury was stripped of his boxing licence as he fought a ban over a failed drugs test, while his much-publicised battle against depression contributed to a weight gain which led to doubts over his boxing future.
The 29-year-old is adamant his evident success in shaping up for a ring return will increase his popularity levels and, more importantly, serve as an inspiration for others who may be going through similar health issues.
Fury said: “I’ve had massive support throughout all my troubles, everybody’s really been helping me and spurring me on.
“This isn’t just me and my team, it’s me and the whole nation. I seem to have everyone behind me and I’m coming back and fighting for them.
“I’m fighting for people who need inspiration and help – people who suffer from mental health problems as well.
“It’s living proof if I can do it, then anyone can do it. To come from 27 and a half stone and to get to fighting level for Saturday night, then that is a statement, isn’t it.”
Every1 Wellcome to my weigh in!— DON TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) June 8, 2018
Going to be good.😜😂😎🥊✅💋🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/MIRmRHDyhW
Fury is clearly intent on reclaiming the world title belts he felt were wrongly stripped from him in the wake of his win over Klitschko, and in particular securing a major showdown with reigning champion Anthony Joshua.
But he has been careful to avoid focusing too much on his future prospects in the build-up to Saturday’s fight, in which the small but willing Seferi is unlikely to detain him for long.
There is no doubt Seferi can punch – 21 of his 23 wins have come inside the distance – but all his wins have come at cruiserweight, and his only loss was to heavyweight contender Manuel Charr in September 2016.
“I’m not here to dwell on the past, I’m here to move forward,” added Fury. “That is all in the past so let’s move on to the next chapter – the new Tyson Fury, the people’s champion. There’s no negativity here.”
The Ukrainian became the fastest fighter ever to claim titles in three different weight classes after recovering from a sixth-round flooring to suck the soul from the now-deposed WBA lightweight champ Linares with a vicious liver shot.
If ‘High-Tec’s’ status as the pound-for-pound king was ever in question before Saturday night’s bout at New York’s Madison Square Garden, there can be no doubt after this performance, a marriage of pure skill and raw will.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist is fast beginning to transcend boxing, no longer should the debate centre on his sovereignty atop the sweet science but instead the topic of discussion should be on his standing across all of sport.
He is that good. It is not promotional hyperbole, as Bob Arum can often be accused of, when the Top Rank head honcho ponders Lomachenko’s place among the all-time greats.
There is no other fighter on this planet right now with his silk-and-savage skillset, a beautiful combination of athleticism and technique with the mental gifts of heart and IQ.
It is absurd that in his 12th professional fight he adds a third belt in as many divisions. To put the feat into perspective, generational geniuses Oscar De La Hoya (22), Floyd Mayweather (34) and Manny Pacquiao (41) all took significantly longer to match the mark.
His resume can scarcely be believed. An amateur record of 396-1, a two-time World Amateur Champion, a two-time Olympic Champion, a first world title in his third pro fight, two-weight champ after seven and now three just five fights on.
And this latest victory was sensational. He faced a world-class champion, who was bigger, more experienced and who in the sixth-stanza had knocked him down for the first time as a pro and first time since 2007.
But he demonstrated a new thread to his bow in getting up, resetting and returning to his relentless output. In the 10th, he found the highlight-finish following a clean eight-punch flurry with a viciously placed hook to the body.
Linares bravely rose to his feet but the Venezuelan was unable to beat the count as referee Ricky Gonzalez waved him off at 2:08.
It’s difficult not to eulogise and celebrate Lomachenko because he is so talented. He is more complete than the self-proclaimed TBE, a fighter as comfortable on the inside as he is on the outside.
Yet, while he bossed an established bigger man, this may be the time for his ascent through the divisions to be halted, at least for now.
Lomachenko’s physique and stature is naturally suited to 126lbs but up at 135lbs, the knockdown proved a period of acclimation and unification should follow.
Not that there are no less exciting contests at lightweight. The vulnerability exposed by Linares, who make no mistake is a beast, should encourage the likes of WBC champ Mikey Garcia in particular who at 135lbs is a huge puncher with a very sharp grasp of the fundamentals.
“It was a great fight. That right hand [that knocked me down], it was a great punch. It happens,” Lomachenko said. “I prepared for the last few rounds, and my father [and trainer Anatoly Lomachenko] told me, ‘You need to go to the body.’
“Linares is a great champion, and the fight was good for the fans and everybody.”
“I thought the fight showed Linares is a helluva fighter, and Loma just stayed in there and knocked him out with a body shot,” Arum said. “He established himself as a great fighter. He has a fighting heart.”
Talk of course immediately turns to what is next for boxing’s most dynamic star but for now, boxing fans should just soak up this performance, one almost at odds with the violence of this sport it was so pretty at times.
Indeed, Loma’s displays belong in a gallery and we should rejoice his canvas is in a squared circle.
While David Haye is considering retirement after he dramatically lost in the fifth round to Tony Bellew on Saturday night, the Liverpudlian’s reputation is at an all-time high.
Here, we explore each fighter’s potential next move.
Aged 37, increasingly injury-prone and following successive defeats to an opponent who was a light-heavyweight while he was at his peak and the WBA heavyweight champion, Haye has run out of options.
In his two pay-per-view fights with Bellew he would have been paid well, but he proved shot, and the damage done to his reputation means he will no longer be able to command the money he would expect to fight on.
Regardless, as his latest defeat demonstrated, he no longer has the reflexes and speed which once made him such a fine fighter, and would have to reinvent his fighting style – which is that of a young man – if he is to stand any chance of succeeding. There looks to be no way back.
The 35-year-old has secured his financial future since achieving his ambitions of fighting at Goodison Park and winning a world title.
His two fights with Haye, at heavyweight, also means he no longer has the title he won at cruiserweight to defend.
Given he is unlikely to achieve anything new, there is no better time for him to retire.
Return to cruiserweight
Bellew’s natural division is thriving because of the World Boxing Super Series and in his absence, the emergence of Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk and Russia’s Murat Gassiev – that competition’s finalists – would present significant challenges.
He would also be the underdog against each, and risk undermining his recent successes.
Remain at heavyweight
By his own admission, Bellew is not a natural among the world’s biggest fighters, and has long insisted he only fought Haye because he too was once a cruiserweight.
When asked about the two world heavyweight champions, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, he says they are too big and powerful for him.
The heavyweight division is where he can earn the greatest money, but he would need to be matched very carefully.
Pursue Andre Ward
Bellew mentioned Ward – presently in retirement – as a potential opponent. Ward has won world titles at both super-middleweight and light-heavyweight, so even with his extraordinary skills, he would not prove too big an opponent for Bellew.
If the American could be tempted to return and fight in the UK, Bellew may yet enjoy one last big night.
Provided by Press Association Sport