Heavyweight contender Tyson Fury returns this Saturday against the unheralded Joey Abell, which will be the British star’s first appearance since a thrilling U.S. debut, last April, in which he got off the floor to halt former IBF cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham in nine rounds.
“I can’t wait to fight,” said Fury, THE RING’s No. 5-rated heavyweight. “It’s been such a long time, thanks to Mr. David Haye, but what can you do? I’ve had my time off and I’m looking forward to having a good year.”
It took mere seconds for Fury to mention Haye’s name but it was made abundantly clear that the former WBA heavyweight titlist would not be granted any significant coverage.
“To be honest it’s water under the bridge,” said Fury. “David Haye has retired and I knew all along that the fight wouldn’t happen. There was just too much money involved for me not to take a chance. It was a gamble to prepare for that fight, and it didn’t pay off.
“I don’t care what happens to David Haye and I really don’t want to talk about him.”
So the business at hand is a 10-round bout at the Copper Box Arena in London, against a fighter nicknamed “Minnesota Ice”. The 32-year-old Abell, who replaced Argentina’s Omar Basile, has lost three of his last five but, on the flipside, 28 of his 29 wins have come via knockout.
Hitting power should always be respected, but Fury oozes confidence.
“I just want to get some rounds in,” said the 25 year old. “Obviously I’ll win, because that’s what I do, and I’ll probably get the knockout. After this I’m back in April, then I’ve got Dereck Chisora in the summer and hopefully a win gets me a shot at Wladimir Klitschko.
“The Chisora rematch is a good fight, because it’s two fellas that will take on anybody, plus the winner gets a shot at the heavyweight title. Chisora will get beat again though. I beat him the first time and I’ll knock him out next time.”
Fury has been calling for a shot at a Klitschko brother for a while, but his chances of securing a dream fight halved at the end of last year, when older brother Vitali retired to pursue a career in politics.
“Vitali is done and deep down I don’t think I’ll ever get Wladimir,” said Fury with regret. “Wladimir was supposed to fight the winner of me and Chisora last time and it didn’t happen, so what does that tell you? He’s frightened, because he knows I’m the only fighter capable of knocking him out.
“Still my world title shot is coming, and it’s coming fast.”
As Fury’s career has progressed the buzz around a Klitschko fight has increased. Physically the colossal Brit is more than a match for THE RING champion, and he is willing to enter any prize ring in the world to back up his boasts.
“I would fight him anywhere,” said Fury. “Wladimir definitely won’t take me on in a voluntary defense, which is why I’m determined to become the WBO mandatory challenger. If the fight happens, which I doubt, then it won’t be until 2015.
“Wlad has mandatories against Alex Lepai and Kubrat Pulev to take care of first.”
Fury is 21-0 (15 knockouts) and is beyond convinced that the learning curve is complete. The type of man who wears his heart on his sleeve, he switches from exuding confidence in his own ability to instant and unbridled frustration.
“I want a title fight next, but it’s not that easy is it?” said Fury. “I’ve fought and won two eliminators, but I seem to be going backwards. My next big fight is going to be against a guy who I beat three years ago.”
Is Fury looking too far ahead, or is his rise to the top merely a matter of time?
Photo / Scott Heavey-Getty Images
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing