By Jake Donovan
This time last year, the main focus of Tyson Fury was to trim down considerably from the 400 pounds of body weight he was lugging around and enjoy some semblance of a healthy ring return.
A hell of a lot more than that was accomplished by the unbeaten lineal heavyweight champion. His widely-disputed 12-round draw with Deontay Wilder capped an improbable comeback for the ages, a run which began with the accomplishing the already seemingly-impossible in simply returning to the ring at all.
Now once again considered among the very best active heavyweights on the planet, Fury isn’t ready to let that good feeling go away any time soon
“I’m going into ’19 feeling fresh, feeling healthy,” Fury revealed during an exclusive interview with BT Sport, which will air Monday evening on its YouTube channel. “It’s a new me. I’m like ‘Wow, I’ve never done this before.’
Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs) has infamously ballooned in weight between fights, even at the height of his career. The 30-year old from England saved his best for the biggest event of his career, a Nov. ’15 points win over Wladimir Klitschko on the road in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Klitschko entered the bout as the recognized World heavyweight champion and had held eat least one alphabet title for 9 ½ years to that point. Fury put aside all old habits to train like never before in seizing the moment, but not even the career-best victory could persuade him to permanently keep his out-of-the-ring behavior in check.
An immediate rematch clause in their contract was executed by Klitschko, forcing Fury to vacate one alphabet title but with the reward of gaining hometown advantage for the sequel. Part two was to take place at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, but was twice postponed—first due to an ankle injury suffered by Fury, and then the rescheduled date scrapped altogether when Fury was declared medically unfit to fight.
Subsequent battles with depression—leading to thoughts of suicide—along with efforts to kick drug and alcohol addiction left Fury out of the ring for more than 2 ½ years, and upwards of 400 pounds by the time he was fully prepared to give boxing one more go.
His celebrated ring return came last June, stopping an overmatched Sefer Seferi in four rounds before outpointing veteran fringe contender Francisco Pianeta two months later. Both bouts were more about Fury getting back into fighting shape more so than proving he still belonged in the conversation of today’s best heavyweights.
“Going into January, usually I’ve had to lose five stone minimum,” Fury admitted of an old version of himself which he hopes to never again see. “This is new territory for me. I’ve finally turned the corner. It took me 30 years. I’m not going out drinking or eating loads of rubbish. I’m just going out and training.”
A huge inspirational boost came in his celebrated performance versus Wilder last December in Los Angeles. The battle of unbeaten heavyweights saw Fury thoroughly outboxing the American early before having to overcome two vicious knockdowns late in the contest. The latter—courtesy of a right hand and left hook—seemingly left the hulking Brit down and out midway through the 12th round of their instant classic.
That he miraculously rose from the canvas was a comeback within a comeback, as Fury not only made it to his feet but had somehow reclaimed momentum by the time the final bell sounded. His efforts were rewarded in the form of a victory in the court of public appeal, as a bout most observers had him winning officially ended in a split-decision draw.
Both sided immediately embraced the idea of a rematch, with talks currently underway. Fury wants it or any other big fight, with demand growing for an all-UK showdown with unbeaten, unified titlist Anthony Joshua.
For the moment, none of the big three have anything set in stone. Fury remains ready for anything—but would hate to see it all be for naught.
“Hopefully, there’s plenty of exciting nights still left in me,” Fury states of his second career. “I’m a youngster, just 30. I just hope everyone does the right thing and fight each other.
“If not, then it’s pretty pointless being involved in the heavyweight division. We might as well all just retire if we’re going to fight nobodies.
The full interview will be available on BT Sport’s ‘No Filter Boxing ‘YouTube channel this Monday at 7:00pm, along with even more behind-the-scenes content with Fury.