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- Tyson Fury has been cleared to return to the sport of boxing after accepting a two-year ban, backdated to December 2015.
- Fury remains a widely polarising figure but behind the controversies and the buffoonery lies a mad, bad, genius who could threaten Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight crown.
- But for Fury to be taken seriously as a competitor, he must first fight the fat – the 29-year-old is over 100 pounds (40 kilograms) overweight.
Tyson Fury is back.
Following a two year absence from the sport, the suspension of his boxing license, and a protracted anti-doping charge, Fury has finally been cleared to return to the ring.
But he has not boxed professionally since his upset victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, he admitted to cocaine use last year, and has seen his weight balloon to 25 stone (350 pounds).
Since Fury was world champion, the heavyweight title landscape has changed. American banger Deontay Wilder reigns over the WBC rankings, New Zealand puncher Joseph Parker holds the WBO belt, and IBF champion Anthony Joshua annexed the WBA title when he beat Klitschko in a competitive fight in April.
Of the three current champions, it is Joshua who has impressed the most.
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Joshua laughed off an in-ring riot to flatten old amateur rival Dillian Whyte with a chilling right uppercut in 2015, and he got off the canvas to crush Klitschko in a heavyweight classic.
His sports career is in the hands of powerful promoter Eddie Hearn who has guided the Londoner into two high-profile stadium fights this year, selling 160,000 combined tickets in the process.
In 2018, Hearn wants to take Joshua to even dizzier heights. A March ruckus with Parker, which would have three of the heavyweight world title belts all on the line, is reportedly close to fruition. A Las Vegas showdown with Wilder for the remaining belt could see Joshua’s popularity transcend borders later in the year.
Joshua would be expected to defeat Parker, perhaps even by extending his thrilling knockout-winning run. He would also likely start as the favourite heading into a UK vs US showdown with Wilder.
Of the two, only Wilder has a weapon that could trouble Joshua. That weapon is a distance-closing right hand that lands with soul-stealing aplomb.
Joshua has already shaken off Klitschko’s most powerful shots and demonstrated that he has, as they call it in the trade, “testicular fortitude.” He has shown a warrior’s toughness to weather the roughest of storms, and has emerged in a blaze of glory whenever he’s had to fight fire with fire.
But the return of Fury would present Joshua with an altogether different challenge. This is because Fury fights fire with water.
Behind the controversy lies a boxing genius
Fury has become an internet meme. In the past he has punched himself in the face, dressed up as batman ahead of the biggest fight of his life, and hired dwarfs to act as bodyguards. But behind the buffoonery and behind the batmask lies a mad, bad, boxing genius.
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Joshua has already seen fighters who can throw heavy shots.
Fury is by no means a power puncher. At six foot eight he has a unique skill-set. He is an awkward, gangly, unpredictable fighter. His intuitive head and body movement can leave an attacking opponent flustered, he has a mastery of shot selection, and he has an intelligent boxing brain.
Klitschko has fought and lost to both men. Though he knocked Joshua down to the canvas, he struggled to land a clean glove on Fury as you can see for yourself in this clip below.
Fury has the tools to extinguish Joshua’s inferno. His distance management, defensive maneuverability, and his shot selection could confound Joshua’s stand-up, knockout style. Fury could be the water to Joshua’s fire.
A Battle of Britain bout with Fury would be the biggest test of Joshua’s career to date, but there does remain one clear issue – at 25 stone, Fury must first fight the fat.