British heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury was last seen in a professional boxing ring back in November 2015 when he faced off with 5/1 betting favorite Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany. It would turn out to be a triumphant night for Fury who negotiated his way through 12 tense rounds by jabbing, dancing and taunting his way to a miraculous unanimous decision victory over the great Ukrainian ending a run of 24 straight world title defenses.
That fight is now 28 months ago for those keeping count however since then the 'Furious One' has remained a prominent figure in the British boxing scene despite this absence from the ring with a number of personal and professional issues being widely reported on in the press.
The boxer recently resolved a long standing dispute with the UK Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) and has had his suspension lifted by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) clearing the way for Fury to step back into the ring and resume his career. However before looking forward let's recap the key events which have side-lined the self-titled 'Gypsy King' for over two years.
Timeline from Klitschko Fight
November 2015: Fury defeats Wladimir Klitschko to become WBA (Super), WBO, IBF, RING & Lineal World Heavyweaight Champion.
April 2016: After both parties conclude negotiations lasting several months, a Fury-Klitschko rematch is announced for 9th July 2016 at Manchester Arena.
June 2016: The rematch is postponed with Fury citing an ankle injury and is rescheduled for 9th October 2016. UKAD also charges both Fury brothers with anti-doping violations relating to failed drug tests administered 16 months prior in February 2015.
September 2016: Trainer and uncle Peter Fury announces that the fight is again being postponed indefinitely stating that his nephew is "medically unfit" to compete.
October 2016: The six foot nine giant has cast a large social media shadow throughout his career and again causes a storm by announcing his retirement from the sport via a foul-mouthed tweet only to retract the statement hours later also via Twitter.
Fury later announces that he is vacating all of his titles citing ongoing health issues and the BBBoC suspends the boxer pending an investigation into the anti-doping violations and stated health concerns.
December 2016: A comeback is announced by Peter Fury who is targeting April or May 2017 for a return bout.
March 2017: Excitement is sparked as 13th May 2017 is confirmed as the date for Tyson Fury's next fight. This is short lived however as the BBBoC confirm that the suspension that was previously implemented is still in effect.
July 2017: The second retirement announcement is made, this time via Instagram in a post which has since been removed however was reported on by The Guardian.
December 2017: An agreement is reached with UKAD as a two year backdate ban is imposed and accepted by Fury ending on 12th December 2017.
January 2018: BBBoC lifts the suspension effectively clearing the way for a return to competition.
Comeback & Potential Opponents
Tyson Fury spoke candidly with Rolling Stone during this period revealing an ongoing battle with depression, his issues with recreational drugs and how he had gained a significant amount of weight whilst banished from the sport. It's astonishing to think however after two retirements, a doping ban, the suspension of his boxing license and a host of health issues it appears that the latest comeback is filled with promise with the Mancunian fighter back in the gym since before Christmas in an attempt to shed the excess pounds and get back into fighting shape. The former world heavyweight champion is also reportedly sparring with top heavyweights again including upcoming Dillian Whyte opponent Lucas Browne.
In a recent Instagram post, Fury reaffirmed his desire to not only return to the ring but to recapture his titles and go on to break the current record of consecutive world title defense, set at 25 by the great Joe Louis. With the appetite to return to boxing seemingly back for good it begs the question who will his next opponent be? He has often spoken about marquee match-ups against current world champions Deontay Wilder and fellow countryman Anthony Joshua however before matching either of these champions it is likely that tune-up fights will be arranged against more manageable opponents considering the risks involved with such a long layoff. Whilst no word has been given as to potential opponents a realistic comeback fight may be against the winner of Manyel Char vs Fres Oquendo bout scheduled on 4th May 2018. This would give Fury a chance to win the WBA Regular Heavyweight Championship and put him in line to challenge Joshua who holds the WBA Super title. The only definitive news regarding any potential bouts is that Shannon Briggs and Antonio Tarver have been ruled out as opponents.
Such is the nature of the talented and mercurial boxer that he may decide to pick up again where he left off and jump into the ring with a top heavyweight in Deontay Wilder or his domestic rival Anthony Joshua straight away whilst it would be equally plausible for him to announce his retirement again tomorrow. For the sake of boxing fans and the state of the heavyweight division, we can but hope that he stays the course on his comeback and we see boxing's latest clown prince back in the headlines for the right reasons. At 29, Fury is relatively young still for a heavyweight and can yet fulfil his potential by returning to the ring and recapturing the form he showed that magical night in Dusseldorf when he shook up the boxing world.Published 24 Mar 2018, 15:36 IST