'Guess who's back?': Fury's return rouses heavyweight scene
FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, newly crowned heavyweight world boxing champion Tyson Fury poses for photographs in Bolton, England, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, after defeating 39-year-old Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf, Germany on Saturday to become the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion. It is announced Tuesday Dec. 12, 2017, that Tyson Fury is free to box again after receiving a backdated two-year ban for an anti-doping violation. Fury has not fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015. (AP Photo/Jon Super, FILE)
By Steve Douglas, Associated Press
The heavyweight division just got even more interesting.
Only a few minutes had passed after the news broke that Tyson Fury was free to box again, following his long-running dispute with Britain's anti-doping agency, when the man himself took to Twitter.
"Guess who's back?" Fury tweeted.
Next to those words was a video of him grooving to tunes inside a car.
It was a novel way for someone to react to being found guilty of a doping offense. Then again, Fury is one of a kind.
And that's what makes his imminent return to the ring — subject to him regaining his boxing license — all the more exciting.
The heavyweight scene has been revived since Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to win the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts. The Klitschko brothers — Wladimir and Vitali — were regarded as boring, with their dual, decade-long dominance a turn-off.
Now, the division boasts a new breed of fighters, champions from three different continents in Britain's Anthony Joshua (WBA and IBF), American Deontay Wilder (WBC) and New Zealand's Joseph Parker (WBO).
Then there's Fury, back to stir things up even more.
The loudmouth Briton and his cousin Hughie accepted backdated two-year doping bans on Tuesday after providing elevated levels of nandrolone in urine samples following fights in February 2015. Both boxers said they "never knowingly or deliberately committed any anti-doping rule violation" and were willing to come to a compromise agreement with UK Ant-Doping in what proved a convoluted, drawn-out case.
The bans were backdated to Dec. 13, 2015, and expired at midnight on Tuesday.
Fury must get back his license, which was suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control last year over separate incidents of drug use and medical issues, but is now a major player among the heavyweights.
Soon after his "Guess who's back?" tweet, he called out Joshua by writing: "Where you at boy? I'm coming for you."
Joshua is likely to fight Parker or Wilder next, potentially in the summer of 2018, but — in Britain, at least — the box office fight would be Joshua vs. Fury, which would be promoted as the national treasure taking on the bad boy. Both are unbeaten as professionals and have contrasting fighting styles.
"Next year I will be back doing what I do best, better than ever and ready to reclaim the world titles which are rightfully mine," Fury said in a statement from his promoter. "It's time to get the party started."
Fury will need to shed the pounds, having bloated up to 350 pounds (nearly 160 kilograms), and has posted videos recently of him working in the gym. He will also need some fights to get sharp enough and mentally ready to handle the likes of Joshua and Parker.
But Fury prides himself on being a natural boxer — he comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle Gypsy fighters — and doesn't believe it will take long to be back to his best.
"I'll fight my way back, nice and steady — '18 is going to be a big year, a turnaround year," he said on British TV show "Soccer PM" on Saturday. "Two years out of the ring. There's only been Muhammad Ali and maybe a couple of others who have come back after two years (out) and been successful. And they probably didn't live the life I've lived outside boxing.
"Outside boxing, I'm not an athlete at all. I'm not an athlete in boxing! So it's going to be a hard road back, but I'm more than capable of doing it."