THE bar was set low before a punch had even be thrown.
Sefer Seferi, a 39-year-old Albanian cruiserweight known as ‘The Real Deal’, was 66 pounds lighter and nearly a foot shorter than Tyson Fury the night he welcomed the former world heavyweight champion back to competitive action in June. That’s how low the bar was set the moment contracts were signed, and, ding, ding, round one, from there it only got lower.
We saw glimpses of Seferi’s danger, or lack thereof, at the pair’s fight week workout, but this impotence really became clear on fight night, as he tried – admirably, it should be said – to use limited skills to land punches on the face of a man who was out of arm’s reach even when the pair were toe-to-toe.
It, the so-called fight, ended with a stoppage, between rounds four and five, and all we really established in that time was that Tyson Fury, 26-0 (19), is a professional boxer again and that his comeback is going to be long and potentially frustrating. We also realised the bar, thanks to Sefer Seferi and the acceptance of him as an opponent, will remain low – for the time being at least – and won’t be nudged much higher ahead of Fury’s next fight, set for August 18 at Windsor Park.
“I made it very clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t be going in with any world-beater to start with,” Warren told Boxing News prior to Fury vs. Seferi. “He’s got to get the ring rust out of his system.
“I just want to keep him busy. I haven’t even thought about who the next guy is going to be. He might be someone of that (Sefer Seferi) ilk. I’m not in any rush.”
Our only wish is that we’ve heard of this August fall-guy, that he’s a touch bigger than Seferi and that he appears, on the face of it, to have thrown punches in a boxing ring before.
Get those boxes ticked and you’ll realise fight fans are an understanding, patient lot – they often have to be – and that Fury, given his troubles, given his layoff, will benefit from having been a pariah, a sympathetic figure, for the best part of two and a half years.
“It’s not like when David Haye came back and was main event (against Mark de Mori),” added Warren. “We’ve not done any of that stuff. I’m not kidding the public. I’ve been very honest from the start about this.
“I want to keep him as active as possible. I think you suck it and see. You see what happens over the next few fights and then make a decision.”
In trying to predict opponent number two, and perhaps help those at a loose end, I’ll disqualify all the champions and the consensus top 10 in my list of 25, as well as anyone who is otherwise engaged. (Disclaimer: some of the 25 heavyweights mentioned, I’m aware, will be deemed too good for Fury at this stage in his rehabilitation. But if we go too realistic, and too obscure, where’s the fun?)
I’ll also start off optimistically and work my way back towards reality.
Here’s what we have.
Charles Martin, 25-1-1 (23)
Why him? He’s a name known to British fight fans, thanks to a stop, drop and roll against Anthony Joshua in April 2016, and is also a former IBF world champion. The reign was short, admittedly, but so too was Fury’s. Subplot: Martin was only ever world champion because Fury went away and gave up the goods.
What’s the risk? He walks like a god.
Tomasz Adamek, 53-5 (31)
Why him? He has some name value, even at the age of 41, and has won his last three fights, one of which was against Joey Abell, a former Fury victim. He’s also small and relatively light-hitting.
What’s the risk? A world champion at light-heavyweight and cruiserweight, Adamek has forgotten more about boxing than Sefer Seferi will ever know and that, irrespective of age or mileage, makes him potentially tricky for a returning Fury.
Johann Duhaupas, 37-5 (24)
Why him? This is the Frenchman who volunteered to fight a dirty Alexander Povetkin when the Russian had just failed a performance-enhancing drug test and seen a propose fight with Bermane Stiverne fall by the wayside. In short, Duhaupas, a cheap date, will fight anybody.
What’s the risk? Though 37, Duhaupas is still in the mix at a decent level and seems only to lose against fighters of note. Last time out, for example, he lost a 12-round decision against unbeaten American Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller.
Erkan Teper, 19-2 (12)
Why him? Everybody wants to see Erkan Teper, a serial drug cheat and the scourge of David Price, beaten up, don’t they? That’s probably as good a reason as any for Fury, now pally with Price, to get in there and deliver some justice.
What’s the risk? Teper, as shown against Price, can punch hard, or at least used to be able to punch hard (when Frankenstein’s monster masqueraded as a clean heavyweight contender). More recently, however, with supplies drying up, he has found his level in the form of defeats to Christian Hammer and Mariusz Wach.
Bermane Stiverne, 25-3-1 (23)
Why him? As a former WBC world heavyweight champion, and the first man to take Deontay Wilder the distance, Stiverne has a solid enough reputation and, back when he could be bothered, had some decent skills. Now, though, as proven in a first round defeat to Wilder in the pair’s rematch, those skills, and that motivation, are no more.
What’s the risk? Stiverne, 39, used to be good. Well, relatively speaking. In heavyweight terms. Good when matched against Chris Arreola. That kind of good.
Artur Szpilka, 21-3 (15)
Why him? He has lost two of his last three but did give a good account of himself in a WBC title shot against Deontay Wilder back in 2016. That brought him as much credit as wins over the likes of Tomasz Adamek, Taras Bidenko and Jameel McCline.
What’s the risk? At 29 years of age, Szpilka is probably considered too fresh, too hungry, and therefore too dangerous for Fury at this stage in his comeback. (This despite the fact he was stopped in four rounds by the unbeaten Adam Kownacki last year.)
Amir Mansour, 23-2-1 (16)
Why him? Mansour might be 45, and the product of a tough upbringing, but he remains keen and possesses a pretty record on paper, having lost only to Dominic Breazeale and Steve Cunningham.
What’s the risk? A decision win over Travis Kauffman in a 12-rounder last year would suggest Mansour has a bit about him, even at his advanced age, and he also has stoppage victories over the kind of guys you’d expect Fury – if we take this scouting mission seriously for a moment – to realistically fight next.
Gerald Washington, 19-2-1 (12)
Why him? This 36-year-old has only been bested by Deontay Wilder and Jarrell Miller, which is no great shame, and is also six-foot-six and a little bit vulnerable.
What’s the risk? Aside from the fact he has only lost to the best Americans, Washington also holds wins over Eddie Chambers, Ray Austin, Travis Walker and a couple of so-called fellow heavyweight prospects. He isn’t, therefore, an obviously straightforward assignment.
Alexander Ustinov, 34-2 (25)
Why him? Fury was set to fight Ustinov – a late replacement for Dereck Chisora – back in 2014 but withdrew from the fight because his uncle, Hughie, had been rushed to hospital. So that provides history, a storyline of sorts. If that won’t do, Ustinov is also massive, has only been beaten by Kubrat Pulev and Manuel Charr, and is now 41.
What’s the risk? The giant Russian hasn’t been exposed by a subpar opponent yet and is big enough, unlike Seferi, to actually land punches on Fury. Perish the thought.
Herve Hubeaux, 29-3 (14)
Why him? He has a great name, he just lost to the undefeated Oscar Rivas, but only on points, and has yet to be stopped in a 32-fight pro career.
What’s the risk? At 26, Hubeaux is the youngest option on this list, and that might mean nothing, or it might mean something. He also went 12 rounds with the current European heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel back when that title was vacant.
Bogdan Dinu, 18-0 (14)
Why him? He’s got a lovely 18-0 record, which always looks good on the poster, and he’s also a Romanian heavyweight. I mean, seriously, how good can he be?
What’s the risk? Dinu is six-five and 31 years of age. And while he has fought absolutely nobody of any note in his pro career to date, he has yet to be beaten. (Which is to say, there’s no Bodgan Dinu blueprint.)
Erzen Rrustemi, 13-0 (11)
Why him? Similar to Dinu, this 34-year-old ticks a few important boxes. He is, for starters, unbeaten in 13 pro fights. More importantly, however, he hails from Switzerland, which is another way of saying a 13-0 record in Switzerland (hello, Arnold Gjergjaj) is very different to a 13-0 record accumulated in, say, Mexico or Puerto Rico or America or, well, Great Britain.
What’s the risk? He has won his last three fights by stoppage and has fought better competition than Bogdan Dinu.
Franz Rill, 15-2 (11)
Why him? This six-foot-four German-Canadian lost a European title fight against Robert Helenius nearly three years ago and was then stopped by Adrian Granat. He has, therefore, clearly found his level (yet would still be favoured to stop Sefer Seferi).
What’s the risk? Since losing to Adrian Granat by stoppage, Rill has won his last two fights and, at 30, still has time on his side. But that’s all I’ve got.
Chazz Witherspoon, 37-3 (28)
Why him? Second cousin of the great Tim Witherspoon, Chazz has the surname to at least get people talking.
What’s the risk? Once a decent prospect, the six-foot-four Philadelphian is back from an 18-month absence and hasn’t lost since getting stopped by Seth Mitchell in 2012.
Travis Kauffman, 33-2 (23)
Why him? Kauffman was apparently the opponent of choice if Eddie Hearn managed to beat Frank Warren to Fury’s signature ahead of this 2018 comeback. He’s a fun fighter who can punch a bit, gets hurt a bit, and doesn’t lose many. He’s also quite inactive.
What’s the risk? Undersized at six-three, Kauffman seems the game type, and has gone the distance with both Chris Arreola and Amir Mansour.
Edmund Gerber, 28-2 (18)
Why him? If Michael Sprott and Dereck Chisora can do it – meaning, outpoint and stop Gerber respectively – surely Fury can as well?
What’s the risk? He has lost only twice, to the aforementioned Brits, and has boxed two times in 2018 following a barren 2017. Gerber’s got his groove back – maybe.
Adrian Granat, 15-2 (14)
Why him? As a Swedish heavyweight, he is connected to Ingemar Johansson only by nationality, but is six-seven, known as ‘The Pike’ and Alexander Dimitrenko stopped him in a round.
What’s the risk? Again, because he’s six-seven, and therefore not much shorter than Fury, there’s always the possibility he gets brave and attempts to land a punch on an open target. He can also dig a little, as evidenced by 14 stoppages from his 15 wins.
Werner Kreiskott, 25-19-2 (17)
Why him? At six-foot-one, he’s almost as small as Sefer Seferi, and he has also been stopped seven times in a 12-year professional career. Oh, and he’s 39. He shares that magic number with Seferi, too.
What’s the risk? Despite the age and the height, Kreiskott is enjoying the form of his life, having won 12 fights in a row, and is the current Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) heavyweight champion of the world.
Gary Cornish, 25-2 (13)
Why him? He’s Scottish, known to UK fight fans, and is also six-foot-seven, which means he’s quite big.
What’s the risk? Anthony Joshua didn’t discover much risk when blowing away Cornish in a round, no, but the man from Inverness did do something similar to poor Dave Howe last time out, and also went the full 12 rounds in an unsuccessful British title challenge less than a year ago.
Andrey Fedosov, 30-3 (25)
Why him? He’s an American-based Russian whose career has stalled for some time now and could probably do with a meaningful fight.
What’s the risk? With 25 of his 30 wins achieved via knockout, Fedosov can clearly punch. He also hasn’t lost a fight since Bryant Jennings stopped him, on a cut, back in 2013. Since then, he has won six in a row by knockout.
Marcin Rekowski, 19-5 (16)
Why him? Rekowski, a 40-year-old Pole, is more of a cruiserweight in stature, standing at six-foot-two, but did once beat the shell of Danny Williams, the Brixton heavyweight who once beat the shell of Mike Tyson.
What’s the risk? Minimal. Rekowski has won his last two fights against journeyman, but before that had lost four of five. He’s small. He’s old. He’s called ‘Rex’. What more do you want?
Justin Jones, 21-0-2 (12)
Why him? He sounds like a great athlete, a US track athlete, but he’s not. In fact, he’s a 36-year-old heavyweight standing at six-foot-two who has managed to get through 23 pro fights without being found out.
What’s the risk? Jones has fought a lot in Texas and has fought a lot of people with whom you will be unfamiliar. His risk lies in the unknown element. At 21-0-2, he might be decent. Then again, he might be terrible.
Trey Lippe, 15-0 (15)
Why him? If you don’t like Justin Jones, try Trey ‘Don’t Get’ Lippe for size. He’s unbeaten in 15 pro fights, he’s the same height as Jones at six-two, and he too has fought absolutely nobody so far in his career. (P.S. I made up that nickname – sorry, Trey.)
What’s the risk? Tommy Morrison’s son, unlike Jones, has a 100% knockout ratio. Yes, that’s right, of the 15 nonentities Lippe has defeated, not one of them has managed to hear the final bell.
Sherman Williams, 40-15-2 (22)
Why him? Sherman Williams gives you rounds. If it’s ring rust you’re looking to shed, he’s your man. Better yet, he’s 45, so somewhat long in the tooth, and only tries to win fights he feels are there to be won.
What’s the risk? He might be old, and he might be undersized at five-eleven, but the ‘Tank’ doesn’t go away. He just doesn’t. Stopped only once in 58 pro fights, Williams goes rounds and has one of the best chins in the division.
Mark de Mori, 32-2-2 (28)
Why him? Yeah, I said it. Mark de Mori, the Australian most famous for learning how to box on YouTube and then learning how it feels to be knocked out by a professional boxer in 2016, has to be an option at this stage. After all, he needs a comeback fight, as well as a shot at redemption, and, besides, ask yourself this: would he really be any worse than Sefer Seferi?
What’s the risk? The risk is that Tyson Fury doesn’t knock him out as easily or as quickly as David Haye managed. That’s the risk. And Haye got him out of there, quite violently, inside 131 seconds. How could we forget?
Also worth considering are: Pierre Madsen, LaRon Mitchell, Zsolt Bogdan, Siarhei Liakhovich, Pavel Sour, Don Haynesworth, Dennis Lewandowski, Pezhman Seifkhani, Timur Stark, Alexander Flores, Alexander Frank, Marquice Weston, Lenroy Thomas, Richard Lartey, Francisco Silvens, Pedro Otas, Aldo Colliander, Brendan Barrett, Jason Bergman and Rydell Booker (back following a 14-year hiatus – beat that, Tyson).
As well as: Kaal Kvezereli, Joel Caudle, Alexandru Gabroveanu, Mirko Tintor, John Napari, Robert Simms, Jeremiah Karpency, Stan Surmacz Ahumada, Ronald Johnson, Adnan Redzovic, Rogelio Omar Rossi, Abigail Soto, Willie Jake Jr, Willie Nasio, Ebenezer Tetteh, Maurice Byarm, Burak Sahin, Christian Mariscal, Danny Williams, Mike Tyson, or a vengeful Nuri Seferi.