The road to redemption for boxing’s former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury may have already begun.
After dethroning Ukrainian ring legend Wladimir Klitchsko for all major belts in the division in November 2015, Fury struggled with depression and failed a drugs test that led him to vacate the straps and lose his license.
This self-styled Gypsy King has clearly plunged to some shocking lows, but appears to have left the beer binges and cocaine behind him in favour of dedicated training at fellow British boxer Ricky Hatton’s gym.
The Hitman has been impressed with how Fury has got back into shape following those battles with personal demons and piling weight on to around 25 stone. Such is the confidence Fury has inspired that Hatton is backing his fellow Manchester native to make a successful in-ring comeback.
With his drugs ban backdated and license reinstated, Fury’s career goals in boxing ahead of a return to competition include dethroning Anthony Joshua and surpassing the greater Joe Louis’s record for most heavyweight title defenses.
How does Fury get back to big fights and the pinnacle of boxing’s paid ranks though? The road is still going to be a long one.
There is plenty of persistent speculation that Fury will sign with boxing promoter Frank Warren and a comeback fight against an opponent to be determined is rumored for June 9. Whoever he faces and whenever it is made official, it is more likely the bout will be about Fury shaking off any cobwebs rather than having a high-profile encounter straight away.
It is the obvious and well-trodden path for boxers who for a variety of reasons have been out of the ring for the long-term. If the gossip about the date turns out to be true, then Fury’s absence from between the ropes will be just over two and a half years.
Provided he comes through this comeback fight and shows the old magic is still there, Fury can then start thinking about more serious opposition – perhaps in line with those ambitious career goals. The penciled in June 9 date is relatively clear from a UK sport perspective, so the bout could garner plenty of media interest.
Fellow British heavyweight Joshua, meanwhile, seeks to unify the division by first facing Joseph Parker of New Zealand and then a likely encounter with America’s Deontay Wilder.
At this stage, it’s difficult to say whether facing Fury is something AJ and his team are even considering. Should a fight take place between them, even the best odds for online betting have Joshua rated as favorite to come out on top.
Those prices about winning a prospective bout could certainly change if the comeback trail turns out to be a successful one for Fury, however. Official confirmation of his return to the ring is awaited with some anticipation.
AJ’s promoter Eddie Hearn has hinted the champ could swerve an all-British battle with The Gypsy King altogether though. The road back to big fights may not be so smooth for Fury after all.