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Fury has huge advantage as he starts his world quest

 

By Mark Staniforth

Despite shedding more than eight stones to get himself back into fighting shape, Tyson Fury will carry a significant advantage into his comeback bout against Albanian Sefer Seferi in Manchester tonight.

Fury weighed in at 19st 10lbs at a good-natured weigh-in yesterday, making him a full four stones and nine pounds heavier than Seferi, whom he whisked off his feet and cradled in his arms as if to labour the point.

His weight makes Fury more than two stones heavier that he was for his last fight against Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, in which he won the world heavyweight title before his career threatened to spiral out of control.

Fury was stripped of his boxing licence as he fought a ban over a failed drugs test, while his much-publicised battle against depression contributed to a weight gain which led to doubts over his boxing future.

The 29-year-old is adamant his evident success in shaping up for a ring return will increase his popularity levels and, more importantly, serve as an inspiration for others who may be going through similar health issues.

Fury said: "I've had massive support throughout all my troubles, everybody's really been helping me and spurring me on.

"This isn't just me and my team, it's me and the whole nation.

"I seem to have everyone behind me and I'm coming back and fighting for them.

"I'm fighting for people who need inspiration and help - people who suffer from mental health problems as well.

"It's living proof if I can do it, then anyone can do it. To come from 27 and a half stone and to get to fighting level for Saturday night, then that is a statement, isn't it."

Fury is clearly intent on reclaiming the world title belts he felt were wrongly stripped from him in the wake of his win over Klitschko, and in particular securing a major showdown with reigning champion Anthony Joshua.

But he has been careful to avoid focusing too much on his future prospects in the build-up to Saturday's fight, in which the small but willing Seferi is unlikely to detain him for long.

There is no doubt Seferi can punch - 21 of his 23 wins have come inside the distance - but all his wins have come at cruiserweight, and his only loss was to heavyweight contender Manuel Charr in September 2016.

"I'm not here to dwell on the past, I'm here to move forward," added Fury. "That is all in the past so let's move on to the next chapter - the new Tyson Fury, the people's champion. There's no negativity here."

Meanwhile, Belfast woman Michaela Walsh has guaranteed herself at least a bronze medal at the European Championships in Bulgaria.

Featherweight Walsh defeated Helina Bruyevich of Belarus in the last eight to set up a semi-final showdown with Russian Daria Abramova.

Walsh had beaten Bruyevich in the 2014 World Championships in South Korea and the Monkstown ABC boxer repeated the result, taking a unanimous verdict.

Walsh used her jab to good effect as she found the range early on and peppered the Belarussian with sharp one-twos. Though, in the third round Walsh did have to suck up a solid left hook before resuming control with her counter punching.

This latest international medal success is the third in succession as she won EU bantamweight gold last year and in April picked up Commonwealth Games silver on the Gold Coast.

Walsh must produce one of the wins of her career by defeating reigning European lightweight champion Abramova.

Belfast Telegraph

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