Tyson Fury Return & Flanagan vs. Hooker Preview
By: Ste Rowen
This Saturday night marks the return of the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury after almost 3 years outside of the ring since his 2015 victory over then heavyweight king, Wladimir Klitschko. Taking on Sefer Seferi 23-1 (21KOs) over a scheduled 10 rounds.
From being stripped of the IBF belt within weeks of clinching 4 titles (IBF, WBA, WBO & Ring) that came with beating the 11-years undefeated Ukrainian; then vacating the WBA & WBO citing health issues; to eventually losing the Ring Magazine belt due to inactivity earlier this year; it’s been a rollercoaster of events since that night at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf.
But the ride looks to be back on a steady rise again, and the lineal champion is ready to prove he’s better than ever.
‘I feel like I’ve been a goldfish in a tank and now I’m getting released back into the river where I belong,’ Fury told a packed-out press conference on Wednesday, ‘So just put me there and watch me swim.’
‘I’ve been out 1000 days, it’s a long time for anybody isn’t it? Not to mention the amount of weight I put on, 8 stone…I’m looking good, I’m flying…I’ve got better looking by the day.’
Fury, 25-0 (18KOs) admitted to rising to 27.5 stone. Compare that to the weight he expects to enter the ring this weekend, ‘Anywhere around 19’7.’
‘I feel sharper now, faster than I’ve ever been. More power. I just want it more.’
On his opponent, whose most notable fight came in a 10-round decision loss to Manuel Charr in 2016,
‘I’ve met his manager before, he was the manager of Christian Hammer, and I pumped his ass too. Listen Sefer’s a good fighter, I’m not underestimating Sefer. I look at him like I look at Wladimir, Joshua, Wilder, anybody.’
Seferi, according to Boxrec rankings, is Albania’s 2nd best cruiserweight (below brother, Nuri) and Europe’s 44th, having primarily fought most of his pro career at, or below 200lb. But, it was unrealistic to expect a top 10 level opponent as Tyson himself claimed a number of months ago.
Saturday’s fight is all about one man shaking off the rust and announcing his ring return.
Terry Flanagan vs Maurice Hooker
Fury may be the biggest name fighter on Saturday’s Manchester Arena bill, but he’s certainly not involved in the biggest bout. That honour goes to former WBO world lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan who takes on Texas native, Maurice Hooker, 22-0-3 (16KOs) for the vacant WBO super-lightweight championship.
‘Turbo’ Flanagan, 33-0 (13KOs) made five decent, but somewhat underwhelming defences of the lightweight strap he attained back in 2015, including convincing victories over Diego Magdaleno, Derry Matthews and Petr Petrov. But the Manchester native, who fights for a world title for the 4th time in his home city, was never able to secure the big unification bouts that were rumoured to be in development against the likes of IBF champion, Robert Easter Jr, or former WBA and Ring 135 champion, Jorge Linares.
In any case, speaking to ‘Fight Hub TV’, the southpaw is now ready to become a 2-weight world champion,
‘I wanted Linares, I wanted Lomachenko, I wanted them all, but they just didn’t happen…For some reason these fighters don’t. Maybe they see me as little reward and big risk.
‘I’ve prepared for elite fighters, I’ve not prepared for a Maurice Hooker, I’ve prepared for better,’
Terry fought just once last year, a 12-round defence against Petr Petrov and was due to fight his mandatory, Felix Verdejo around June time but pulled out because of a leg injury, before then deciding to make the move up in weight to 140.
‘Might Mo’ Hooker, trained by Vince Parra is yet to go the 12-round distance, going 2-0-1 in his last 3 fights over 10, including a split decision draw with former WBA lightweight champion, Darleys Perez on the KovalevWard1 undercard.
Hooker has so far made his career at super-lightweight and speaking to ‘British Boxers’, the American feels the difference in weight is going to be a big disadvantage for his British opponent,
‘The extra 5lb, my height, my power, my skills, everything; Terry’s not an exciting fighter and I’m ready for Saturday and I’m gonna take it to him.’
‘He’s soft. He was a champion at 135, how you gonna be a champion and not fight nobody?…He got a good matchmaker, they’re finding him these little guys to fight at 135.’
If Flanagan emerges the victor on the night, he’ll match fellow Mancunian, Ricky Hatton in becoming a two-weight world champion, and ‘Turbo’, though trying not to overlook his upcoming opponent, sees his future rising up at least another weight class,
‘I’m plenty big enough, I’m tall enough…I’m happy at the minute where I am but if them opportunities come up again at the weight above, I’ll jump at the chance.’