ED­I­TOR’S LET­TER

Fury has a huge task ahead if heavy­weight his­tory is any­thing to go by

Boxing News - - Contents - Matt Christie @Mattcbox­ingnews Ed­i­tor Fol­low us and keep up to date @Box­ingnewsed Box­ingnew­son­line

The art of a heavy­weight come­back

TYSON FURY will take a huge step to­wards re­gain­ing the world heavy­weight ti­tle if he de­thrones WBC cham­pion Deon­tay Wilder. But the heavy­weight come­back is hard to mas­ter. Gen­er­ally, once the ti­tle has been lost, it’s a strug­gle to get it back.

James J. Cor­bett was the first for­mer cham­pion to try his luck, way back in 1900, when he was beaten by James J. Jef­fries. Bob Fitzsim­mons – who de­throned Cor­bett and then lost to Jef­fries – also found re­gain­ing the cham­pi­onship too much of an ask. Then Jef­fries him­self, Jack Dempsey, Max Sch­mel­ing, Joe Louis, Ez­zard Charles and Jer­sey Joe Wal­cott all failed. Sixty long years af­ter Cor­bett fell to Jef­fries in 23 rounds, Floyd Pat­ter­son be­came the first two-time cham­pion when he bril­liantly re­versed Inge­mar Jo­hans­son’s shel­lack­ing. Muham­mad Ali was the sec­ond, when he de­feated Ge­orge Fore­man in 1974. Three years later he was the first three-time king via re­venge over Leon Spinks.

The ti­tle splin­tered as a con­se­quence of that bout, and even­tu­ally al­lowed Tim Wither­spoon to add his name to the list. But any­one men­tion­ing Wither­spoon – who lost the WBC belt be­fore win­ning the WBA ti­tle – along­side Pat­ter­son and Ali would, 30 or so years ago, have been la­belled the 80s’ equiv­a­lent of to­day’s ‘ca­sual’ fan.

Evan­der Holy­field, how­ever, was wor­thy of join­ing the come­back crew when he lev­elled the score with Rid­dick Bowe in 1993. Len­nox Lewis, too, when he avenged Hasim Rah­man eight years later. Be­tween those vic­to­ries was Ge­orge Fore­man, the great­est heavy­weight come­back artist in his­tory. His win over Michael Moorer in 1994, which came 20 years af­ter that afore­men­tioned loss to Ali, re­mains a truly as­ton­ish­ing achieve­ment to­day.

Mike Tyson’s re­turn in 1995-1996 is of­ten ig­nored, but he de­serves credit for win­ning two sanc­tion­ing body ti­tles fol­low­ing a lay­off. His come­back op­po­nents prior to tak­ing Frank Bruno’s WBC belt – Peter Mc­nee­ley and Buster Mathis Jnr – are com­pa­ra­ble to Fury’s re­cent fod­der. Vi­tali Kl­itschko is an­other from whom Fury can draw in­spi­ra­tion. His 2008 re­turn, fol­low­ing four years out, took him straight to then-wbc boss, Sa­muel Peter, and an­other un­der­rated tri­umph. So there is ev­i­dence and hope for Tyson Fury. Yet the depths of Fury’s demise fol­low­ing his 2015 vic­tory over Wladimir Kl­itschko would make vic­tory this week­end all the greater. Fury de­scended into a dark de­pres­sion af­ter fail­ing a test for per­for­mance en­hanc­ing drugs. Drink and recre­ational drugs be­came his com­pany of choice. Through it all he bal­looned in weight, lost his voice, and showed less re­gard for his health and well­be­ing than any heavy­weight who sub­se­quently man­aged to come back suc­cess­fully.

Even Fore­man’s 10 years out (be­tween 1977-1987) were not nearly as dam­ag­ing as Fury’s two-and-a-half. Kl­itschko’s time away was spent fine tun­ing his ath­letic body. Mike Tyson re­mained fit in prison. Also con­sider that Fore­man had seven years to walk among the best heavy­weights and find his feet.

Fury’s come­back, by com­par­i­son, is not yet crawl­ing. Do not un­der­es­ti­mate his achieve­ment if he wins. ONE hopes we won’t be talk­ing about a Frank Buglioni come­back in years to come fol­low­ing his brave and in­tel­li­gent re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment. He has de­cided, at the age of 29, to pur­sue a life out­side of the ropes. His last-gasp vic­tory over Hosea Bur­ton to win the British light-heavy­weight strap two years ago was elec­tri­fy­ing. Prior to that he se­cured his po­si­tion among his coun­try’s most ex­cit­ing fight­ers dur­ing a se­ries of thrilling af­fairs at su­per-mid­dleweight and a stir­ring am­a­teur ca­reer.

Buglioni ac­cepted that in­juries and his re­cent form (los­ing two of three) was a warn­ing to what might have fol­lowed. In a bru­tal and un­for­giv­ing sport, lit­tered with ca­su­al­ties who re­fused to ac­cept the truth, Buglioni’s de­ci­sion to walk away should be wildly ap­plauded.

Ev­ery­one at Box­ing News wishes Frank and his fam­ily all the very best for the fu­ture.

Photo: MPS/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

RECLAIMING THE CROWN: Holy eld lev­els the score with Bowe

RICHARD T. SLONE

Cover art­work

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