Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Tyson Fury says he has “never felt better” as the controversial British former world heavyweight champion prepares to return to the ring for the first time in two and a half years.
Fury has shed almost eight stone (50 kilograms) in preparation for Saturday’s comeback bout, which is intended to ultimately pave the way for a showdown with compatriot Anthony Joshua, who beat Wladimir Klitschko to claim world title belts Fury was forced to relinquish.
With Joshua targeting a unification showdown against Deontay Wilder, the feeling in Fury’s camp is that he retains the lineal title, having not fought since his own win over Klitschko in Dusseldorf in November 2015 — the Ukrainian’s first defeat in 11 years.
But Fury, 29, looking trim and focused ahead of his bout against Albanian cruiserweight Sefer Seferi, said future showdowns against the likes of Joshua and Wilder will not be further from his mind in Manchester.
“I don’t need to send any more messages — they know the message, and the message is ‘I’m back’,” he told the pre-fight press conference.
“It’s not about how you perform against your next opponent because every opponent is different. I’m going to get in there and enjoy myself and just enjoy my comeback.”
The respective trajectories of Fury and Joshua have gone in starkly different directions since Dusseldorf, with Fury battling well-publicised problems out of the ring while Joshua’s career went stratospheric.
Former WBA, WBO and IBF champion Fury was cleared to fight again in December by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after accepting a backdated two-year ban for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone.
Fury also failed a test for cocaine and admitted using the recreational drug to deal with depression related to his injury and UKAD problems.
Questions remain over the boxer’s ability to regain his former status after such remarkable weight loss, but he has shown glimpses of his old self during more than 300 rigorous rounds of sparring.
“I feel better by the day and I’ve never felt better than I do now — I’m faster, sharper and I’ve got more power,” said Fury.
“It’s no secret that when I was world champion I fell out of love with the game but now we’re back in a relationship and we’re going to spice it up.”
The 39-year-old Seferi appears a good choice for Fury’s comeback, bringing undoubted punch power with 21 stoppage wins from his 24 fights, although his only defeat came on his solitary move up to heavyweight against world-ranked Manuel Charr in September 2016.
Fury added: “I picked him because he’s tough and strong, he’s got a lion’s heart and he will come to win.
“I don’t feel nervous at all. I’ve been a goldfish trapped in a tank and now I’m getting released back into the river. It’s been a rollercoaster of a few years and it’s just great to be back.”