Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury – 5 Steps (Or Fewer) Back to the Top of Boxing

To some, Tyson Fury is the disgraced former world Heavyweight champion who lost his title outside of the ring, the latest insider to drag the sport of boxing through the mud. To others, he’s the rightful champion, a man who has made mistakes outside of the ropes, but a gladiator with a perfect 25-fight record. Most importantly, he’s on his way back, and we can’t wait!

Since announcing on social media – Tyson is hilariously active on Twitter, give him a follow – that he’s back in love with the game and out to shut up all the ‘bums’ that have crept in during his absence, supporters have watched on as their fighting favorite has shed the pounds and made peace with the authorities, all the time edging his way towards a ring returns.

Will we ever see Tyson Fury compete at the highest level again and, if so, does the outspoken traveler still have it in him to regain one of the richest prizes in sport – the world heavyweight crown. That continues to split opinion. Fellow Brit Anthony Joshua is the top-weights current ruler, having dethroned Wladimir Klitschko last April, stopping the 6ft 6inch Ukrainian in 11 rounds, but only after Fury had outpointed the same man, doing a better job of it too, in the eyes of some. Did AJ pick the bones of what Fury left?

We look at Tyson Fury’s shortcut back to the top, five possible opponents and what we could expect from each fight…..

Shannon Briggs

Photo by Johnny Louis/WireImage

If Tyson Fury’s Twitter feed is to be believed, and let’s be honest, it’s not always a reliable source, the Manchester-born scrapper, who went into 2018 with a career record of 25 wins, 18 knockouts, will face Shannon Briggs in his comeback bout. Great news for fight fans, and although the bout itself shouldn’t be too competitive, the build-up will prove fascinating.

Grab a chair. Before the matchup was suggested, we thought either Briggs or David Haye would be the call. Beating the latter would surely win Fury many new supporters, especially in the UK, but Hayemaker has suffered from injury of late and looks on his way out. Remember him ending as a static target against Tony Bellew in March of last year? He’s since pulled out of a rematch and we’d be surprised if he fought again.

That leaves us with Briggs. The entertainer who famously went the distance with Vitali Klitschko in 2010 and followed his brother Wladimir around, over land and sea, pestering him for a shot at the title. Briggs is a big enough name to make Fury’s return credible and has enough on his record to make him dangerous, but at 46-years-old, his best days are behind him. If the fight happens, expect Fury to breeze to a points win, shaking off the cobwebs in the process. Step one complete.

Carlos Takam

Esther Lin/Showtime

The first of two optional fights, if Team Fury want to cover all bases before taking on their main rival for the big prize. Takam brings very little to the table himself but the fact he proved a serious test for Anthony Joshua when only half-fit means he slots into the puzzle quite nicely.

The chunky Cameroon-born orthodox, standing at 6′ 1″ tall, dragged AJ 10 rounds. Yes, he was beaten into submission, looking like he could’ve been stopped at any point during the fight – cut above the right eye and tasting dirt in the fourth round–but boy did he ask some serious questions.

Defeat in Wales took Takam’s stats to 35-4-1, 27 of his wins coming inside-the-distance. He’s been stopped only twice, AJ and Alexander Povetkin. Positioned 18th in the world rankings, he’ll do little to drive Fury through the charts, but looking at it from a promoter’s perspective, Tyson will be given a good test, pulled into the latter rounds, improving his fitness in the process, and if he can do a better job on Takam than Joshua did, then all the better for sports scribes.

Agit Kabayel

Agit Kabayel Twitter

Having won the public over by losing a shed-load of weight and making a winning comeback or two, Fury will have a large section of the boxing fanbase back onside. There will, of course, be many who refuse to simply forgive and forget, meaning he’ll need a better opponent in fight three. That takes us to undefeated fighter Agit Kabayel. Less of a name for Joe Public, with a far less exciting build-up, but an opponent respected in the division and one holding a recognized title.

25-year-old German Kabayel beat Dereck Chisora in November on points, defending his European title in the process, courtesy of a majority decision – two judges scoring Agit the winner, the other tallying a draw. The champ stopped a dozen of his first 17 foes and has only traveled the 12-round championship distance twice. Against a well-schooled boxer, he’ll struggle, Fury keen to capitalise on that lack of experience and encourage him into the latter rounds.

One or two hairy moments, perhaps, but Fury would know enough to stay out of trouble and bank another points verdict, gifting him a European title in the process. Let’s not forget, Chisora pushed Kabayel close in Monte Carlo and Del Boy doesn’t compare to a fit, healthy, determined Tyson Fury, does he?

Kubrat Pulev

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Ready for a step up in class? Again, this would rate as an optional fight, no doubt giving Fury the chance to win a respected title, but his handlers may view it as too much of a risk before the Joshua meeting, and we certainly wouldn’t blame them. Nothing will come easy against the Bulgarian hard man, Pulev entering 2018 with a record of 25 wins against one defeat. The spare came against Wladimir Klitschko back in 2014, stopped in the fifth round that night. He has drastically improved as a fighter since, winning his next five.

That run includes victory over Kevin Johnson on points last year. Pulev is good but hasn’t been the most active fighter on the circuit, meaning he could be there for the taking. Stacked 6ft 4inches tall, and with a 50 percent KO average, he’ll give most in the game nightmares, but if Fury is determined to get back to the summit, he’ll have to climb past Pulev, sooner or later. Negatives over the Bulgarian is he went the distance with Dereck Chisora before nicking a split decision. Worth risking a slug-fest, cut, or even defeat? We don’t think so, but it is a winnable fight for Fury and the fans would love it. Certain to sell out venues across the world, the Englishman on points would be our call.

Anthony Joshua

Esther Lin/Showtime

Still very much a dream fight, discussed in pubs and on fighting forums, but if the paths of both Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua remain clear, we expect them to meet in the summer of 2019. Fury says he’d take the fight now – and we believe him – suggesting he has already offered it to Eddie Hearn. If AJ’s handlers were given a chance to silence Tyson this year I would be surprised if they knocked it back. Surely, from their point of view, he’s still a massive name in the game, a draw that’ll help sell-out any major UK venue and, most importantly, an athlete who still has his fair share of problems, returning from a lengthy lay-off. The sooner Joshua fights Fury the more chance the champion has of winning.

Perhaps Hearn and co saw frailties in their man – and there’s still a few – and thought Fury was just too dangerous and too unpredictable to take a punt on. We couldn’t blame them for that, but, fast-forward 18 months or so and Fury – having extended his unbeaten record by four and holding a major title – will give the media’s golden boy sleepless nights.

So, how would the decider go? The perfect ending to a comeback tale that has won the world’s heart, or AJ proving time waits for no man, especially in the noble art. It’s still very early days but a look at the betting odds available on Oddschecker show Betfair’s traders have taken up position in Team Joshua, making the 28-year-old, currently boasting a 100 percent knockout average, -162.50 favorite (price correct on February 3rd 2018).

That leaves Fury a former champion written off to bring back the glory days. If anything, that’ll make his challenge more determined. He’s +125 to upset the applecart. The draw is best priced +3300 and there’s certainly enough cynics out there who’d have an interest play on that, believing promoters would be bloodthirsty for the rematch and another pay-day.

Fury and his backers would’ve been rubbing their hands with glee when watching AJ struggle against little-known Carlos Takam at the tail-end of 2017. A late stand-in for the job, many expected Takam to be blown away, but he had obviously kept himself in shape and proved difficult to shift. Joshua battered the well-traveled French-based Rocky from pillar to post that night at the Principality Stadium but just couldn’t land the finishing shot, referee Phil Edwards eventually calling a halt to it on 1.34 of the third last.

Let’s not forget, Joshua also struggled against Dillian Whyte and was dumped on the seat of his pants by Wladimir Klitschko. Two fights he won but are the warning signs there that the champion isn’t as bulletproof as the bare stats would have you believe. Keeping it simple – Fury did a better job of beating Klitschko than Joshua did. The latter made for a more entertaining bout, but only because AJ had to get up off the canvas to win, power shots coming from both camps. Fury vs Wlad was boring, one for the purists, perhaps, but only dull because the Englishman won at a canter, refusing to get involved and racking up a comfortable margin on the scorecards.

Joshua’s recent performances show he can be hit, and when he’s hit his chin is questionable. If Wladimir or Whyte had taken their time and been a bit more clinical in their attacks, with the champion hurt, they could’ve got him out of there. Then where would we be? One thing’s for sure, Tyson won’t have to be asked twice. If the favorite is hurt, he has the killer instincts to finish the job. For more information see Dereck Chisora or Christian Hammer. He’s a shark when there’s a whiff of blood in the air, as all great champions are.

That leads us to a look at the specials, and the opinions of betting traders on how this fight could be won make for interesting reading. Odds compilers remain unsure if the bout would go the 12-round distance, giving -125 on it not and -110 on the scoring judges being asked a question. The most likely outcome, when listening to mumbles on the trading floor, is Joshua stopping Fury, currently +137.50 jolly. If that doesn’t happen, then Tyson will win or points. You decide.

The truth is, bookies are as clueless on it all as we are at the minute. Will Fury make it back into the ring? Will he have the same passion and drive to succeed? Will he even make it past his first two opponents? On the other half of the draw – we’ve talked about Joshua’s weaknesses, can he continue to progress and impress, beating top level opponents such as Joseph Parker and American slugger Deontay Wilder to ensure any fight with Fury was for a world title? No belt, no fight, it’s as simple as that, no matter how much the public wants both men to duck between the ropes to settle the score. Heavyweight boxing is back – enjoy the show!


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