Tyson Fury insists he is ready to face heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder despite only two tune-up fights following a two-and-a-half year layoff.
Fury (27-0, 19 KO's), 30, a former three-belt unified heavyweight world titleholder, did not box in 2016 or 2017 to battle cocaine addiction, depression, as well as weight problems.
But the brash Fury, who once promised to be the most charismatic heavyweight champion since Muhammad Ali, ended his hiatus in June, when he stopped Sefer Seferi in four rounds, and the English fighter easily defeated Francesco Pianeta before 25,000 fans at Windsor Park on Saturday as Wilder watched from ringside.
It has since been confirmed that Wilder (40-0, 39 KO's), 32, who holds the WBC title, will make an eighth defense against Fury in a Showtime-televised pay-per-view fight on November 10 or 17 at an undisclosed location in Las Vegas.
But is Fury physically and mentally ready to face Wilder?
That is one of the most significant questions coming into the fight. The good news, for Fury at least, is that he is taking his career seriously again, and it has shown both in and out of the ring. On the other hand, although he has lost over 112 pounds for his comeback after weighing as high as 350 pounds, it still seems too soon for Fury to be facing Wilder.
But Fury has been the underdog once before and proved the critics wrong, dominating future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko in a major upset to win three world title belts by unanimous decision in November 2015. Before that fight, Fury was mocked for looking fat in his previous contests, but he took that criticism as motivation. Fury weighed-in at 260 pounds for his February 2015 bout against Christian Hammer and came in at 247 pounds for the Klitschko fight.
Fury tipped the scales at 258 pounds for the Pianeta fight, meaning he is one solid camp away from perhaps being in the best shape of his life -- as long as he keeps his head together. Although he still lacks the speed, movement, and timing of his triumph over Klitschko, Fury is still fundamentally strong, and is one out of a small list of heavyweights who can outbox and outthink Wilder, but the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist is a brute who can knock anyone with one punch. One mistake. That is all it takes in boxing, and that has been the case for many Wilder opponents, including Luis Ortiz, Artur Szpilka, Gerald Washington, and Siarhei Liakhovich among others. But if Wilder thinks for a second that Fury is just going to be a pushover and takes the foot off the gas during training, that could be the makings of another upset victory for the Englishman.
That is unlikely, though, as Wilder has been desperately in pursuit of a high-profile heavyweight title fight, and surely he will not allow it to go to waste.
It would be genuinely derisible to count out any of these warriors from winning this fight because it will not be a cakewalk for either man. It is a big risk, massive reward type of fight -- the same risk that Matchroom Boxing's Eddie Hearn, promoter of unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua, was willing to take for Klitschko, but was unwilling to take with Wilder -- for now at least.
Many fans are skeptical as to whether the fight belongs on pay-per-view, but after it is all over, we should have a clearer understanding.