By Michael Rosenthal
Return of Tyson Fury: The heavyweight division just got a lot more interesting.
I have no idea how the former heavyweight champ will do in the ring after a 2½-year layoff, which will end when he steps through the ropes to face a yet-to-be-determined opponent on June 9 in Manchester, England. No one does.
On one hand, some forces might be working against him. One, gaining and then losing around 100 pounds of weight can take a toll on one’s body. Two, I wonder what – if any – damage recreational drugs have done. And, three, a hiatus of that length can erode a fighter’s skills to a point where he or she becomes unfamiliar.
Indeed, we might never again see the Fury who outboxed Wladimir Klitschko to become the recognized heavyweight champ in November 2015.
On the other hand, Fury (25-0, 18 knockouts) seems to be rebuilding in a way that will work in his favor. He is slowly, methodically shedding the weight under new trainer Ben Davison. Most agree that he looked good for his recent media event.
He’s relatively young for a heavyweight, only 29, and has endured little wear and tear in his 25-fight pro career. He said the break from boxing has done him good – at least psychologically – because he’s been doing it since he was a child. He seems reinvigorated.
And, finally, he doesn’t seem to be in a rush. Frank Warren, his promoter, says he needs three or four fights to recapture his former form. That’s smart. He could jump into a big-money fight but, if he’s not ready, that could put an end to his comeback.
Fury probably will fight a journeyman in his June 9 fight, which will allow him to get his feet wet and an easy victory. He’ll likely step up in opposition after that. Three or four fights means he could meet like likes of Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder as early as next year, assuming things go well.
How would he do? I believe he’s a better boxer than both of them if he is at least close to the fighter who beat Klitschko. That’s a big if, though. I’ve seen too many comebacking fighters fail to believe in Fury with any conviction.
Let’s take it one step at a time.
If Fury is a “fart in the wind,” as Wladimir Klitschko called him, what’s Wlad? A fart in an elevator? If I remember correctly, the undisciplined Fury made Klitschko look foolish en route to a one-sided unanimous-decision victory. I don’t believe Fury would do the same thing to Joshua but it seems to me that Fury deserves more respect from Klitschko than nasty comments about bodily functions. … I hope middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin fights Vanes Martirosyan on May 5, the day Triple-G was supposed to fight Canelo Alvarez. It would be good for Golovkin, good for Martirosyan and acceptable to fans. Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) can’t be expected to face a major threat on short notice. Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) would be a minor threat but a legitimate opponent. The negative: He has fought as a junior middleweight and hasn’t been in the ring for two years. Not good. The positive: He’s a former U.S. Olympian who has taken his best opponents – Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo and Demetrius Andrade – to the limit in losing efforts. He’s a good fighter. I don’t like his chances against Golovkin but I think he deserves such an opportunity. … American Rod Salka (24-5, 4 KOs) entered the ring to fight Mexican brawler Francisco Vargas (25-1-2, 18 KOs) on Thursday with “AMERICA 1ST” and a brick-wall pattern emblazoned on his trunks. Politics aside, was it really wise to provide a beast like Vargas added motivation when you’re about to do battle with him? Salka survived five rounds. Surprise, surprise. … 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata (14-1, 11 KOs) knocked out Emanuele Blandamura (27-3, 5 KOs) in eight rounds Sunday in Japan on ESPN, which Murata good television exposure in the U.S. He needs to get moving, though. He’s 32 and his biggest victory was his KO of Hassan N’Dam, who had outpointed Murata earlier. He’d like a shot at Golovkin but he’s far from alone. In the meantime, he reportedly will face the man he nearrowly outpointed to win the gold medal – Brazilian Esquiva Falcao – sometime this summer. That matchup has an interesting back story but it won’t do much for Murata’s career. He needs a big-name opponent – soon.