Tyson Fury's return is set to shake up the heavyweight scene

The Fury apocalypse is almost over. Tyson Fury’s licence application will be considered by the British Boxing Board of Control at their next session in January, and following the UKAD reprieve over his failed drug test of February 15, it seems all he has to do next month is turn up on time wearing a suit.

The board is principally concerned with the state of Fury’s mental health. If I were to offer our hero one piece of advice it would be to shut down his Twitter until he gets that licence back. Depending on the hour of the day some of the more fragrant content has the capacity to make right-minded folk, the kind that sit on boxing boards, wince.

I give you his latest offering, a rap attack in the manner of Eminem, which manages to insult the board and promoter Eddie Hearn. It is not a concern for the latter, he loves the bantz.

Terry Flanagan and Petr Petrov Public Work Out

BBBC boss Robert Smith might not be so amused no matter how tongue-in-cheek the infraction. For Smith, at least, the mental health issue that contributed to Fury losing his licence, matters greatly.

The Fury account is never dull. Religious postings hailing the omnipotence of the Lord mingle with furious callouts to his heavyweight rivals, football references to his beloved Man Utd and photos of blissful domesticity at home with Paris and the kids.

Somewhere in the middle of all that noise is the essential Fury. Identifying just who that might be, which Fury is at the controls of those scattergun synapses, probably requires a professional qualification, or at the very least a doctorate in psychoanalysis.

I had my own, intimate exposure to Fury’s shifting emotions in early 2015 when he was preparing to face Christian Hammer at the 02 Arena in London, the very fight at which he tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone that ultimately began his two-year dispute with the UK Anti-Doping Agency. More of that up-close and personal encounter shortly.


Hog And Chips Diet

Fury denied any wrongdoing, explaining that the illegal levels of the substance in his blood resulted from eating wild boar. I mean, who hasn’t had a portion of uncastrated hog with their chips on the way home? It would appear that in a case that took two years to prosecute, UKAD accepted that it was time to draw a line under the procedural problems and legal complications and agree a compromise that allowed Fury and his cousin Hughie to continue their careers.

At 29 Fury is still a young man. His victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 shocked all but his own camp. In it he revealed deep ring intelligence, executing a well thought-out plan devised by his uncle and coach, Peter Fury. There was none of the drama associated with Anthony Joshua’s primal scrap at Wembley that ended Klitschko’s career because Fury sucked the juice from the contest with his subtle variations and counter strategy.

In February that year I spent an afternoon at his Bolton gym watching him spar and then afterwards sat on the ring apron in what was one of the more unusual audiences of a 25-year career in sports writing. The talk began with boxing but quickly shifted to embrace a range of topics, all of it underpinned by a conviction that he had a higher understanding of the nature of things and that he was blessed in his connectivity to a higher authority.


Fear And Loathing In Bolton

There were contradictions, too. He was both ‘s**t’ at boxing in relation to the greats behind him - led by Muhammad Ali, who’s image featured in a mural on the gym wall - and a fighter the like of which the world had never seen. He professed to hating boxing, dismissed it as a business, nothing more, and at the same time expressed a desire to run through the heavyweight division, getting rid of all the ‘bums’ along the way.

He moved seamlessly into a discussion of his emotional state, how sometimes he woke up wanting to throw himself under a bus. He spoke of his profound attachment to Jesus, reflected in his many Tweets on the subject, and about his fight with personal demons and the devil.

Our conversation ended with him saying he would pray for me. I took that as some kind of compliment, that he thought I was worth saving. By then the gym had completely emptied, save for the two of us, and the light had almost gone from the day. I understood as I walked into Bolton town centre to catch a tram back to Manchester something of the inner volcano that might blow at any moment and threaten his career as much as any opponent.

Boxing at Manchester Arena

Mail On Sunday Meltdown

Later that year it did via an interview given to Oliver Holt of the Mail on Sunday, the consequences of which unravelled in a way that would have surprised him when he was delivering his sermon on the evils of homosexuality. Fury compounded the negative reaction that inevitably followed by threatening to send a mate round to Oliver’s home to dispense Fury justice, which as you might imagine detonated yet more media moralising.

Fury backed off, it was all a joke, he didn’t really mean it, he was having a laugh, banter. This is pretty much the cycle and face of Fury’s public pronouncements. Like a child, he gives himself permission to say what he wants and the right to laugh it all off as some kind of wind-up.

And so he followed his UKAD resolution with more Twitter buffoonery in which he mocked the British Board of Control over his suspension and told Anthony Joshua’s promoter to jog on, only less politely. Hearn’s a big lad and won’t mind the insults since all this stuff adds zeros to the contract should Joshua and Fury meet in the ring.

Fury’s boorish behaviour is no different to any powerful figure operating in an environment free of checks and balances. He does and says what he wants while maintaining beneath it all that he is a good bloke, a family man, a would-do-anything-for-you kind of fella.


Gone In 60 Seconds

He might read this and conclude he must have something about him or else we wouldn’t be expending so many words on him. Well, he has this; he can fight. Whether he is as good as he thinks he is - the best out there - is another matter.

Steve Cunningham, essentially an inflated cruiserweight giving away more than three stones, had him over in the second round four bouts before he beat Klitschko, a feature of the emerging landscape Tony 'Bomber' Bellew will not left him forget.

Any fighter can go over, we know that, but Fury’s bombast does not allow for weakness. Hubris is always the biggest threat to fighters who glory in their own achievements. To be fair to Fury, he can be mildly entertaining, he moves well, is a fine technician and a sharp tactician.

And when he gets in the ring with Joshua, David Haye or Tony Bellew, or the great American threshing machine Deontay Wilder, the tickets will be gone in 60 seconds.

But will the punters be paying to see him win? The question is wasted on him. He really could not give a toss.


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