Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Home Sport Boxing

Fury has come a long way - but there's still plenty left to be done


By Steve Bunce

They came in their thousands, cheered, laughed and most left happy as Sefer Seferi limped from the ring and Tyson Fury celebrated the end of his messy exile with an ugly win after four rounds on Saturday night.

Nobody inside the Manchester Arena really expected anything other than the choreographed pantomime Fury delivered. The fallen world champion has not fought since November 2015 when he beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany for three world championship belts and it showed. Boy, did it show at times.

Seferi played his part, performing a comic Ali shuffle, joking and ducking away from Fury's lunges; Seferi often looked like Charlie Chaplin in his brilliant boxing film. There was, as promised, plenty of slapstick until about 30 seconds into the fourth round when Fury finally seemed to find his range and started to let his fists fly.

Seferi, nearly five-stone lighter, was out of gags and at the bell to end round four he simply sat down in his corner, shook his swollen head and it was called off. Seferi could do no more and had given Fury four rounds, a heftier version of a pacemaker in a 10,000 metres race; Fury still has a few laps to go and Seferi is unlikely to be the last pacemaker.

At the end Fury knew his timing had been off and he seemed to realise that the journey back to a world title is going to be a lot harder than many imagine. Ten days ago he had warned me that he would not be rushed and he is so right. It takes time to put a big man back together again in the boxing business and with Fury the struggle to construct a champion again happens on both sides of the ropes.

Fury has come a long, long way from the broken man with his shattered mental health in 2016. His belly resting on the band of his shorts is just a cosmetic blemish, not as important as his state of mind. And that right now is fine.

He has dropped seven stone in weight, will probably lose another stone and the final push will inevitably take him closer to the man we saw beat Big Wlad. However, there is a very real chance that the dancing master from that glorious night might have just lost a bit more than we imagined.

It is very early in the return, but for a man who has been in the gym non-stop for eight months and has completed hundreds of rounds of sparring, his initial timing and judge of distance was disturbingly off.

Seferi was the right man for a hard job and the four rounds were crucial for Fury. There is probably a need for more direct and physical sparring with less emphasis on the technical side. Fury looks like he needs a few old-fashioned gym wars to sharpen things up.

As he made his way to the ring the smile vanished from Fury's face, replaced by a look of concern. It was, you see, a must-win fight; all of Fury's fights now have that heavy tag and there will be no comebacks inside a comeback.

That is simply not allowed in the brutal game.

At the end of round two, after two rounds of showboating, Warren had a word with Fury in the corner. Fury's father, Gypsy John, had delivered a few harsher words just seconds earlier. The message was clear from both - let's get this finished. Fury started to get closer and let his hands go from the start of the third, but still his eye was out. As the seconds ticked down in round four there were fewer safe corners for Seferi, and Fury had found the missing, elusive form. Sure, Seferi quit, but this is a bloody and dangerous business and nobody paid enough to demand a fight to the finish.

The roadshow will continue in Belfast on August 18, Fury will be 30 then and at an age when heavyweights, especially big heavyweights, blossom.

There will be another fight or two before the end of this year, every fight, round and minute essential in the difficult process to build the heavyweight we watched in awe in Dusseldorf win the world championship so long ago. In Manchester we had, perhaps, a 100-second glimpse of that fighter: It was short enough to be a concern, but more than enough to make the enigmatic Fury unmissable.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph