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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Is Tyson Fury really boxing's comeback hero?

Tyson Fury is a boxing comeback story who has served a drug ban, been forced to apologise for anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks and gives his multi-million dollar fight purse to the homeless.

Now let that sink in.

Trying to chart Fury's media journey in recent years is a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows which would turn the stomach of the most avid theme park fans.

In November 2015 he shocked the world by beating the apparently unstoppable Wladimir Klitcshko to win the unified boxing world titles. He was immediately stripped of one title because a potential rematch stopped him facing the mandatory challenger. The rematch never happened, with Fury twice injured and also charged by the UK Anti-Doping Agency. About 11 months after his win, Fury relinquished his titles to face doping charges and mental health issues. His victory pushed him into the public spotlight, which is a dangerous place at the best of times.

He was shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, but the uncovering of homophobic and sexist remarks he had previously made caused outcry. Long-jumper Greg Rutherford threatened to pull out of the public vote if Fury was included and BBC journalist Andy West quit over the corporation nominating Fury. The boxer, who styles himself as 'The Gypsy King', apologised for his comments at the ceremony.

Even Fury's journey back has not been simple. When he announced his return both the British Boxing Board of Control and Irish Boxing Union announced they were not granting him a licence. What followed was a protracted public court battle with the UK Anti-Doping agency, during which Fury slammed the authorities for dragging the process out. In December 2017 it was announced his ban had been effectively served and Fury was free to return.

What followed was two warm-up fights against over-matched opponents, before Fury stepped into the ring at the weekend with WBC Champion - and noted knockout artist - Deontay Wilder. Fury dominated the fight in LA, but was floored twice in the last round and the judges scored it a draw.

Since then Fury has returned to the top of the media billboard. Three years after his first win, he is now being interviewed on the pitch at Old Trafford and talking openly about plans for a rematch. He is back, styled by the press as the comeback king and uncrowned champion. The darkness of his past comments or actions are washed away as a bright future stretches out ahead.

And that makes sense. He has apologised and following his quest for a rematch is a good story - both sporting and human interest.

But there is a cost. There is the looming spectre of what could come next. Tyson Fury is a good story precisely because he is lively and unpredictable. He once turned up to a press conference dressed as Batman. For a British boxing media which has been left with Anthony Joshua as its biggest star, Fury is a gift. While Joshua is humble, focused and - maybe harsh but - a bit vanilla, Fury is all bluster and bravado.

And Fury get the job done.

But what happens next time it goes wrong? The first defeat? The next misjudged outburst?

Fury is that mate who can be brilliant value on a night out, but can equally have one drink too many and end up being rushed to hospital. Promote him as a top boxer, by all means, but making him into a beloved media star is dangerous and could end badly. I hope he's turned a corner and come to terms with his past actions, but it's not evident and the spotlight won't be helping.

Photos of Tyson Fury from his Twitter account; Photo of Anthony Joshua from his Twitter account


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