PERHAPS the only thing in boxing trickier than creating a game plan to beat Vasyl Lomachenko is this: creating a career plan for Tyson Fury.
As unpredictable as he is talented, Fury, 25-0 (18), has retired and unretired more than most (and in boxing that’s saying something), lost every one of his world heavyweight titles without actually losing a fight, and has, for a whole host of the reasons, not set foot inside a boxing ring since November 2015.
On June 9 in Manchester, however, he’s back. Properly back this time. His opponent will be unheralded Albanian Sefer Seferi, 23-1 (21), and the man charged with the unenviable task of keeping the Tyson Fury ship going straight, towards its intended destination and away from icebergs, is Hall-of-Fame promoter Frank Warren.
“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. “He’s got to get the ring rust out of his system.
“He’s going in with a guy who went 10 rounds with Manuel Charr. If he can go 10 rounds with Charr, he must be durable and must have a bit about him. That’s a decent yardstick for Tyson.
“I know he fought at cruiserweight, but so did many heavyweights. He won fights at cruiserweight. He wasn’t losing them. So, he’s a good yardstick at this stage of the game.”
It’s not the big promoter sell, nor does it need to be. Seferi, as Warren mentioned, has indeed gone the 10 rounds in the company of Manuel Charr, but that, in truth, is about as good as it gets. The rest of the former cruiserweight’s 24-fight record comprises journeymen and novices and, at 39 years of age, it can hardly be said he’s in the process of building his career.
Still, given the amount of time Fury has been absent, this kind of softly-softly approach should come as no surprise.
“Tyson has been out of the ring nearly a thousand days,” stressed Warren. “And it’s not like he’s been in the gym ticking over during that time. He’s had all sorts of other crap going on, some self-inflicted, some not, and that takes its toll.
“He’s had a lot of family stuff going on, but now he’s in a good place and it’s our job to get him a couple of fights under his belt and step him up to fight Anthony Joshua.”
Seferi isn’t necessarily the problem. Even Fury’s harshest critics will begrudgingly hand him a pass for comeback bout number one. But it’s when the Seferis of the world become the rule and not the exception – when a comeback outstays its welcome – that a feeling of unrest might engulf Fury and his promoter.
Aware of this, Warren is quick to point out the transparency of their approach. Moreover, he’s at pains to stress it’s all about quantity over quality – at least initially.
“I just want to keep him busy,” he said. “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.
“This is not the main event. We’ve got a world title fight on the card (Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker contest the WBO super-lightweight title). I’m very clear on this. We’re not selling this as the main event.
“It’s not like when David Haye came back and was main event (against Australian Mark de Mori). 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’d like to get him out again in early September. 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.”
‘The Tyson Fury Suck it and See’ roadshow will commence on June 9 in Manchester, stop off somewhere in September, and hopefully conclude with a fight against Anthony Joshua, Britain’s current world heavyweight champion, at some point in 2019.
That’s the plan anyway.