By Terence Dooley
“Gypsy” John Fury is firmly in his son Tyson’s corner ahead of his return to action against Sefer Seferi at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night yet the 54-year-old former pro believes there is much more at stake than a ring return for the former world heavyweight Champion and widely-acknowledged linear holder.
Fury Sr. has watched his son battle against depression and substance misuse during his near three-years away from the sport, a time in which his weight went up to around 27 stone, and has witnessed first-hand the battle he faced to get back to fitness. Although he has marvelled at the physical change, Sr. told BoxingScene that his son’s current happy and healthy mind-set will inspire all those who suffer with mental illness, and he is particularly proud of this aspect of Fury’s comeback.
“You know what, I am proud of what Tyson has done, and all we can say now is that we should let the people enjoy the work he has put in and what he is about to achieve,” he said when speaking to BoxingScene.
“We wanted to get his body right, we will take our time and we get him to where he wants to be. Everything couldn’t be better and the public can see that and be inspired by it, especially people with problems because Tyson can inspire them by showing there is a way out of them. It is nearly a thousand days out of the ring so you can’t rush it: keep working hard, fight regularly, and let nature take its course.”
As for the mental side of Fury’s rehabilitation, John told me that if the 29-year-old can free himself from his mental maze then anyone can given the right support and treatment. He said: “You can be eight foot tall, thirty stone of muscle, but if something goes wrong in your head only person can help you, and that is you. You need to talk to others, trust in others, and just hope for the best—don’t quit or give up, there is always a way out.”
Seferi has been roundly dismissed as a choice of opponent, with many pointing out that he has largely campaigned at cruiserweight and looked pedestrian when losing to current WBA regular holder Manuel Charr in September 2016. Fury, though, argued that they are taking a calculated risk with the 39-year-old opponent.
“Let me tell you this, I wouldn’t have picked him—he’s lost only one time to a world champion and knocked out 21 of 23 opponents,” he said. “He is dangerous. I’m a boxing man, I know my stuff and wouldn’t have taken him, but Tyson said ‘No, I want rounds’, and this man will give him rounds. Seferi is very capable, mark my words.
“People talk about his size, but Rocky Marciano was only five 10, Henry Cooper weighed 15 stone, and Muhammad Ali was only six foot two. Most of all, Rony Jones Junior is five foot 11 and is a four-weight world champion, including heavyweight. Don’t write anyone off who is sixteen stone and has speed and power enough to knock anyone out.
“This man has come here to change his life and his country forever, if he wins he becomes linear world Champion. I’m a good judge of character and he isn’t here to lose. These Albanians are fighting men, he has pride, is a nice guy, isn’t brash and you know what that means? He is here to fight and cause a problem, I can see that in his eyes.”
Frank Warren has said that Fury’s ring intelligence is what sets him apart from the other top heavyweights. His father went one step further, pointing out that the public enjoy the fact that Fury has something to say in interviews and has a mercurial edge when in front of a mic or a camera.
“We are getting a great response from the public, who are right behind him and, as Frank said, he does know his boxing,” he said. “Tyson has got intelligence behind him, he’s had an education in boxing and I’m used to seeing his quick wit in real life. Look at the Internet video views. I don’t have tell anyone how intelligent he is, people can see it for themselves. Anyone who can get an edge over a man who speaks 10 different languages like Wladimir Klitschko is not a fool. Tyson is a very intelligent fella.”
He added: “I told everyone he would beat Klitschko, but people assumed because I’m his dad I’d just say all that anyway. I knew. If I didn’t think he was capable of it I wouldn’t throw smoke in the wind and say things that aren’t true because if you do that then you get found out.”
Joshua rose rapidly to prominence in Fury’s absence and the WBA Super World, IBF World, IBO and WBO holder is now a major draw in the UK. There is a talk of a meeting with Wilder, but the Londoner’s desire to reward his fans with a showdown on UK soil means that the fight could slip further away. However, Fury maintains that Joshua should dip his toes into the America market in order to add the WBC title to his belt collection.
“Promoters get talking to each other because that is their business, they talk and make fights, but if Anthony Joshua wants to make that really big money he has to go to the States—that’s what all the bands and musicians try to do,” he opined.
“Go to America, because until you’ve done that you aren’t the full package. Joshua has got the tools, though, and the only man in the world who can beat him is my son. Wilder is a good fighter, but Joshua will do him. It is a dangerous fight for him, though. My son has got intelligence, he moves like a middleweight and can punch so he is a nightmare for those two.”
As for a potential meeting between Fury and Joshua, John told me that they are happy if that one takes a bit of time to come together as it will only grow in size if both continue to win their fights. “It will happen so why push it?” he asked.
“The longer a stew is left for the better it tastes. It is the same with boxing. Let people enjoy the build-up, the comeback. The fight with Joshua is the pot of gold as long as Joshua keeps winning, if he can manage that then it will be huge.”
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