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Irish ring greats fear a long, hard road back for Fury

By David Kelly

Published 14/10/2016

Heavy blow: Tyson Fury on his way to beating Wladimir Klitschko to take the World heavyweight title in Germany last November
Heavy blow: Tyson Fury on his way to beating Wladimir Klitschko to take the World heavyweight title in Germany last November

Irish boxing legends Barry McGuigan and Dave McAuley both fear that it is going to be a very, very long road back to the ring for Tyson Fury.

Fury vacated his WBA and WBO World heavyweight titles yesterday and at the same time the British Boxing Board of Control suspended his licence pending further investigation into "anti-doping and medical issues".

Fury is presently the subject of a UK Anti-Doping investigation into his alleged use of the banned substance nandrolone - which he has always denied - and recently confirmed he had taken "lots of" cocaine.

Former featherweight king McGuigan is hoping that Fury can find a way out of the dark place of depression he is currently trapped in, having already started work with a specialist.

"I'm just not sure that he is in love with boxing and in love with the training that you have to go through for a fight," said McGuigan.

"It's so physically demanding preparing for a big fight and you see him going into very long camps, it takes him about four months to be in shape to fight. It's the thought of those physical demands that can bring you down, the discipline required of being in camp for that length of time.

"He's so naturally talented but I am starting to wonder if we have seen the best of him. It's going to be hard to get back to where he was and you wonder can he get himself up again?

"It's a good thing that the British Board have suspended his licence because he needs time to get himself together. He's clearly in a very bad place and I don't know how long it takes to get back from that.

"Because of his vitriolic outbursts in the past he may not get a lot of sympathy for having to vacate his titles but I genuinely wish him well and I hope that he can get back because I want to see him in there facing Anthony Joshua and David Haye in two huge fights.

"I just hope he can come back fresh with his desire re-kindled. He put in a great performance to beat Wladimir Klitschko but he's going to have to be even better than that if he does come back if he is to beat Joshua or Haye."

While Tyson's coach and uncle Peter insists that his nephew can return to rule the heavyweight scene, former flyweight world champion McAuley concurs with McGuigan in wondering if he can once again handle the demands of the fight business.

"It's such a sad story, to see a man climb to the very top of the sport and there's no higher place than heavyweight champion of the world and then see it all fall apart," said McAuley.

"The money he could have made from a re-match with Klitschko and a further title defence is just incredible - untold millions. It's like winning the lottery and not being able to find the ticket and that is going to be very hard to take.

"As a fighter, losing a title is like losing something very precious - you've fought so hard to get there. I know what that's like - when I lost my world title after a controversial loss in Spain it felt like my whole world had ended. I remember two days after it and it just hit me up the face and I was wondering 'what am I going to do next?' And there's no support, you have your family but it's a tough place to be in.

"Tyson clearly has mental illness and that can hit anyone and he needs the best support and help possible because he's going to be hit by the fact that through no fault of his, but because of this illness, he has had to vacate his titles and his licence has been suspended.

"Dealing with that when you're already in a vulnerable state is not going to be easy. It's going to be a long, hard way back - if he ever gets back because for Tyson to get back into the ring everything has to be 100 per cent. Any long lay-off requires a lot of work before you get back and that's even if you're not suffering from mental health issues.

"He has been a guy who has been up and down, this hasn't just happened. He seems like a fighter who needs to be focused all the time, he needs to be staying busy and it seemed to be taking too long for him to make his first defence.

"I really hope he can get back in the ring but only after he is truly ready to do it."

Meanwhile, former World heavyweight champion Haye has backed Fury to return as an improved fighter when he recovers from the issues which are keeping him from the ring.

Haye said: "I'd say to Fury 'Get away with your family, a change of scenery. Somewhere nice and beautiful, where nobody knows you, and switch off'."

Haye revealed that - like Fury - depression was something he was also forced to overcome earlier in his career, and sympathises with Fury's plight.

"It's very difficult to come out of any mental downturn," he said.

"It's not self-inflicted, it just happens. I had it in small quantities and there was nothing wrong with me. Physically I was in fantastic shape. I was undefeated, but found myself locked in my room for days at a time in the dark, not talking to anyone, turning my phone off.

"I don't know what caused it. For whatever reason I just lay in bed, under the covers, in the dark, shut the curtains, and stayed there for days.

"I talked to a friend and he explained 'Something in your brain isn't firing like it should, it's a chemical imbalance, so whatever makes you feel good, gets that serotonin pumping: try and find it'.

"So I went straight to the airport, to Gran Canaria, and a couple of days later I was feeling like myself again. It's just the beginning of Fury's story, not the end."

Belfast Telegraph

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