Former unified heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury is back.
He has not boxed since outpointing Wladimir Klitschko in a shocking upset to claim three world title belts and the lineal title on Nov. 28, 2015 at ESPRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany. His life spiraled out of control not long after his historic victory.
Fury (25-0, 18 KOs), 29, of England, pulled out of the contracted rematch twice and twice tested positive for cocaine. He dealt with drug, alcohol and mental health issues and claimed he was retiring multiple times only to change his tune. He was suspended for an anti-doping violation from before the Klitschko fight and also gained a tremendous amount of weight.
But as he began to get his life under control, he returned to the gym to get in shape. He signed with management company MTK and received permission to get his boxing license back from British regulators. And on Thursday, Fury finally made his ring return official.
Fury signed with promoter Frank Warren and they announced at a news conference in London that Fury would return to face an opponent to be determined on June 9 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, Fury's hometown.
The never-shy Fury boasted, "The king has returned. I'm back to reclaim what is rightfully mine. This is going to be an interesting journey. There's a lot of fascinating challenges out there for me and I'm looking forward to getting started. I can't wait to get in the ring and put on a display for all of my fans. I'm the fittest that I've ever been. My timing and my reflexes are better than they've ever been. I'm coming into the prime of my career and I'm more confident than I've ever been. All of my focus is on my return at the Manchester Arena on June 9.
"All of the current heavyweight champions out there are very vulnerable and very beatable."
So now what now? Here are the answers to some important questions surrounding Fury's return:
What does this mean for the heavyweight division?
The division is as interesting as it has been in years. Unified titleholder Anthony Joshua and titlist Deontay Wilder rule the roost but there are also other good fighters such as former titlist Joseph Parker (recently outpointed by Joshua), Luis Ortiz (recently knocked out by Wilder in a memorable fight) and contenders Dillian Whyte and Jarrell "Big Baby" Miller, to name a few.
But Fury's return gives the division a huge lift. He's a big man with a big name and even bigger personality. He injects more life into the division and if he can return to form it sets up any number of massive fights. He also still has a claim to the lineal title since he has never been beaten, so he brings a lot to the table in boxing's marquee division.
Who should he fight on June 9?
Don't expect him to face anyone too good. I'd expect a journeyman opponent, a guy who might be durable but has little chance to actually win. Remember, Fury will have been out of the ring for 31 months by the time he fights. He's entitled to a tune-up fight or two and a chance to get back under the lights again and shake off the rust.
One name mentioned has been long faded former champion Shannon Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 46, but I wouldn't count on that. Briggs might be long in the tooth but even he might be too tough of an assignment after such a long layoff, though if it did happen, the buildup would be a riot with the way they can both talk smack.
Will he get a title fight?
If Fury comes back and looks even halfway decent, a title fight surely will come sooner than later. A showdown between Fury and Joshua would be massive in the United Kingdom. Fury took swipes at Joshua during his news conference, and after Joshua beat Parker last month he was asked who he wanted to fight next, Joshua said he wanted Wilder -- or Fury.
It's a huge fight. One fly in that ointment, however, is that Fury is signed to Warren and Joshua is signed to archrival Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. That's not an easy deal to make -- at all. But with the amount of money it could generate, where there's a will there's a way.
How about a fight with Wilder?
Though Joshua-Fury would be huge, a fight between Fury and Wilder also would be a big one if it was in the U.K. Fury showed much more respect for Wilder in his comments during the news conference, lauding him for his power and ability to KO anyone at any time. I have to think Fury would much prefer a fight with Joshua over Wilder because it's much bigger financially and I also think, based on their styles, a much more winnable fight for Fury. But if a Wilder fight presented itself and it was a legitimate deal, it would be hard to see him turning it down.
Is there any other big fight for Fury?
Rivals Tony Bellew and David Haye are scheduled to meet in a rematch on May 5 at the O2 Arena in London. The winner of that fight would be an obvious candidate for a major fight with Fury.
He has history with both men. After Bellew-Haye II was postponed in November, Fury called out Bellew and said he would be willing to replace Haye. Fury also was scheduled to fight Haye in September 2013 only to have the fight postponed because of Haye suffered a cut in sparring. It was rescheduled for February 2014 but called off entirely when Haye suffered a more severe right shoulder injury that required surgery. Fury-Haye should have happened four years ago. Maybe it's not too late?