By Paul Mason
The atmosphere inside the Manchester Arena on Saturday night took you back to the days of Ricky Hatton’s reign as the undisputed King of the city. Expectation built and built for the main event, and following an intriguing WBO Super Lightweight Title contest, where Maurice Hooker inflicted Ancote’s Terry Flanagan’s first professional defeat, it reached fever pitch.
A stirring rendition of Oasis anthem Don’t Look Back In Anger from the thousands in attendance further enhanced the excitement in the air, and they were more than ready for the return of the enigma that is Tyson Fury. He emerged to a five-song mash up that the crowd lapped up. A classical piece started the ring-walk. Eminem’s without me asked you to guess who’s back, LL Cool J advised don’t call it a comeback. Fury then poked fun at his two-year ban and recreational drug use by putting his own twist on Afroman’s anthem, Because I Got High, before Mark Morrison’s Return Of The Mack had Manchester Arena bouncing.
It was then down to business. In my opinion, Tyson’s plan was to pull his opponent, Sefer Seferi, through to halfway of the ten round contest. I think he wanted to be taken a few rounds before spectacularly closing the show just before or after halfway. After referee Phil Edwards bought the two together for their instructions to be explained, the two shared a kiss, in one of many bizarre moments from the fight. The first round featured hardly any action of note. We saw Ali shuffles from both men, and I lost count of how many facial expressions Fury went through during the round. Seferi wore out the canvas with a fair share of running, after all, he was conceding over four stone in weight and considerable height to the Manchester man.
Towards the end of the second round, a fight broke out. Unfortunately, this was to take place on the floor seats behind ringside, and not between the two combatants inside the ropes. Embarrassingly for promoter Frank Warren, the mass brawl that emerged, occurred just behind the area where he was seated, thus visible to the BT Sport viewer. The scenes were ugly, and security struggled to bring matters under control. Many videos of the fracas are currently circling on Social Media. Bizarrely, Fury and Seferi both took breaks to see what was happening in the crowd, while not stopping to defend themselves. To be fair, Fury could have probably turned his back on Seferi, and still not been susceptible to any damage.
It was evident throughout the fight that if Fury chose to, he could have stopped or knocked out Seferi any time he chose. He upped the work rate, particularly in the fourth round, and started to connect with more and more power right at the end of the round. The plan (my opinion of the plan) was working, and I’m sure Fury’s agenda for round five was to close the show. However, he wasn’t afforded that honour, as Seferi was pulled out of the bout by his corner team between rounds, I’m still unsure as to what the official reason was. The fans displayed their displeasure, some throwing objects from the stands.
Fury did what he had to do. He won and shook a little rust off, but now the mounting question on fan’s lips will be: Who’s next?
We know what’s next. Carl Frampton fulfils a dream and will box at Windsor Park, Belfast on August 18. We now know that Tyson Fury will be on that card. Personally, I hope the man that is in the opposite corner on the night is David Price. Yes, Price has been brutally knocked out on a number of occasions, but I think he can tell Tyson where he is at this stage in his comeback. Price gave a good account of himself in Cardiff in March against Alexander Povetkin, a man at the forefront of the Heavyweight division, and he should be facing Anthony Joshua for the World Title next. He knocked down the Russian, before submitting to a painful knockout defeat in five absorbing rounds, not disgracing himself at all.
I think Price would be perfect to be Fury’s next opponent. He will come to win, have ambition, and give Tyson the work he needs. Fury is at his best when he is switched on and focused, and not when he is involved in te pantomime stuff, and he will need to be alert against someone like Price, who, for all of his frailties, carries monster one punch power. They also have amateur history, so there is a good backdrop to a contest between the two. Don’t get me wrong, I have no doubt that Fury wins, it would just be interesting to see how he deals with Price, and I could see the fight being a firefight, and exciting for the fans.
The plan is to box for a World Title by the end of the year, but by that, I think the plan must be to lure WBA “Regular” Champion, Manuel Charr into a fight in late 2018. As Frank Warren said himself, he envisages all other belts to be tied up until early 2019 at least, with Joshua facing Povetkin for the WBA (Super) IBF and WBO Titles, possibly in September, and WBC Champion, Deontay Wilder, making a mandatory defence of his Title later this year. Tony Bellew has stated in the aftermath of Fury’s win over Seferi that he will knock Tyson out. I don’t see this fight happening. If Fury is on a mission to regain what he never lost in the ring, then surely a fight with Bellew doesn’t fast track him to the top. I think Bellew is tracking the big names for one last lucrative fight, hence why Andre Ward was called out after the Evertonian’s stoppage victory over David Haye last month. I would be happy enough to see Fury fight Price then Charr, before making an assault on the big boys in 2019.