Tyson Fury confirmed on Thursday he will return to the ring on 9 June at the Manchester Arena – against an opponent yet to be announced – and said he will be fighting not just for money and titles but for people such as him coping with “depression and mental problems”.
The posters were already on display when, in every sense of the word, Fury entertained the media at the Four Seasons hotel in central London, and they told his simple message: “The Real Heavyweight champion of the world”.
That is the ultimate goal in his journey of vindication since his last appearance in gloves, the night two years and five months ago when he ended Wladimir Klitschko’s 10-year reign as the world’s best big man since the days of Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.
Fury, 29, will have at least three or four fights, though, before he is ready to challenge either the man who subsequently stopped Klitschko, Anthony Joshua – or the other champion in the division, the American Deontay Wilder.
The most encouraging aspect of his return was his demeanour: relatively relaxed, happy enough but with plenty of the familiar buzz that has made him such a compelling figure in the sport. He has a stone to go to reach his best fighting weight, he said, but would “box this weekend if Frank wanted me to”.
Warren most certainly does not want that, but he supports the fighter in his own quest to challenge Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom – which promotes Joshua – as the leading promoter in Britain. “The [British] Boxing Board of Control has passed him medically fit to fight,” Warren said, revealing Fury is yet to be licensed as he is self-managed. “And we will announce the opponent in due course. We will also be announcing a broadcaster in due course. It’s a multi-fight deal.”
It would be a major surprise if the long-term deal is not a continuation of the arrangement Warren’s BoxNation has with BT Sport.
Fury said of his unusual rehab after being diagnosed with mental problems: “I had a good few nights out, having a good time after boxing since I was six years old.”
He added: “It’s taken a long time to make it happen. It’s been a long, complex drawn-out situation, but the important thing is I’m back to claim what is rightfully mine. It’s going to be one of the longest comebacks in history of a heavyweight champion. People out there are claiming to be the world’s best. Given the right time, these guys aren’t a match for my speed, agility and skill. They’re sluggers and wild punchers.
“I’m a lot lighter than I’ve been. Timing, reflexes, everything, better than ever, I kid you not. Everything is there, 29 years old, in the prime of my life. It should be relatively easy.
“We’ve got two champions. Joshua, he’s a big old dosser, a belt-carrier for me – by the time I’m ready it’s going to be a no-contest. The only way he’ll land anything on me is with a handful of rice. Wilder is dangerous until the last few seconds of a fight, only needs one punch, but he’s a bit weak around the old whiskers and he’s not the best boxer in the world.
“The fans have shown me a lot of love. Everybody loves a good comeback story. Before I was just a sportsman but through all the trials and tribulations, I’ve turned into a real person. This is a fight for depression, mental problems. I’ve been as low as any man can go, and as high as any man can go. I’ve been to the brink, I’ve overcome.
“To be honest, I had no love for boxing. The fire was out, and out for a long time. It wasn’t until I went to Spain for a training camp, Working with Ben [Davison], I found it suited me. He’s been at my house for five months, seven days a week, eating right, sleeping right. I needed a young person with a passion to achieve his goals himself.
“I’ve got to congratulate Joshua, he’s done very well. I gave up my belts, wasn’t stripped, to secure my own well-being. And I’m willingly to get it all back again. He’s an exciting fighter, can’t wait to get my title back. The past is in the past. Where I went yesterday is history.”
Warren said: “He’s not going to be rushed. Any opponents, I’m going to pick. When he fights for the title, he’s going to be 100%. Anyone he fights will be 100%, and that’s the disadvantage he’s got, two years out.”