By Keith Idec
Tyson Fury made a triumphant but underwhelming return to the ring against an overmatched opponent Saturday night.
The former heavyweight champion stopped a reluctant Sefer Seferi after four largely dull rounds at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. Manchester’s Fury, who fought for the first time in 2½ years, didn’t land many flush punches, but Seferi declined to answer the bell for the start of the fifth round.
The 6-feet-9, 276-pound Fury improved to 26-0 and recorded his 19th knockout. Fury had a six-inch height advantage and out-weighed Seferi by 66 pounds at their weigh-in Friday.
Before Fury stopped him, Switzerland’s Seferi had lost only to Manuel Charr. Syria’s Charr (31-4, 17 KOs) defeated Seferi (23-2, 21 KOs) by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder in September 2016.
Fury started landing some punches in the third round, when Seferi tried to keep his distance and held whenever Fury let his hands go. Seferi never really seemed badly hurt, yet declined to fight past the fourth round.
Referee Phil Edwards warned Fury midway through the second round for doing more showboating than fighting. Edwards admonished Fury again later in the second for hitting Seferi behind his head.
Toward the end of the second round, Fury seemed distracted by a fight that broke out in the crowd, just a few rows from the ring.
Fury spent most of the first round clowning around and didn’t land a hurtful punch during those three minutes.
The 29-year-old Fury fought for the first time since he upset Wladimir Klitschko to win the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles in November 2015. Ukraine’s Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) was a 4-1 favorite over Fury before their 12-round fight in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Fury’s immediate rematch with Klitschko was postponed twice, which led to Fury giving up his titles to seek treatment for alcoholism, depression and drug abuse.
The controversial ex-champion stayed out of the ring for more than two years and gained an enormous amount of weight before beginning to take training seriously again.
The 39-year-old Seferi was a very safe opponent for Fury to face in his comeback bout.
The Albanian veteran’s record entering their scheduled 10-rounder was 23-1, including 21 knockouts, yet was built against an extremely low level of opposition. He has beaten just four opponents with winning records.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.