Tyson Fury returns to boxing this weekend and whilst his comeback is being widely anticipated by thousands of fight fans, I can’t help but feel he has already won his toughest battle without throwing a punch in anger.
Tyson, like so many in our sport, has had to combat demons far more terrifying than any opponent imaginable in a boxing ring, and although he has plenty to prove physically this weekend and beyond, overcoming sometimes severe mental health issues simply has to be respected even by his worst critics.
Tyson is a family man, so to hear some of things he was saying and is reported to have said since his last fight and before recently show you what sort of place he was in.
It might seem a strange thing to say, but boxing can be helpful when it comes to struggles with mental health. Of course letting off steam and frustration on a bag can help you relieve some stress, but the focus, strong will and resilience the sport teaches you and demands can be invaluable when something isn’t right in your head.
I think it’s a case of Tyson needing boxing as much as boxing needing Tyson. From a physical point of view, he’s lost so much weight and looks fantastic when you consider the shape he was in when he was slapping his stomach in front of the world’s media in front of Wladimir Klitschko.
I have to say that I’m delighted to have seen his journey back to boxing and you can see it on his face that he’s delighted to be back getting involved in all of the pre-fight press conferences and being in and around familiar faces in the sport.
He’s another lad from Manchester who’s defied the odds to reach the top of the sport – maybe there’s something in being from our city that does that to you? There’s been so many examples of fighters from here who’ve overcome incredible adversity to achieve their goal. Tyson did that a few years ago in becoming undisputed champion, but it was short lived. I think now we’ll see a fighter desperate to make up for lost time and someone most of the boxing world want to see do himself justice in the ring.
Tyson never lost his belts in the ring, which I’m sure is a motivation in itself. It’s a very different division to the one he left behind with some big names and potentially huge fights out there – I think that’ll excite Tyson in coming back.
He’s more than good enough to be in the mix with Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder and the like and I can’t wait to see what a physically and mentally healthy Tyson Fury can do. He’s shocked the world once, who’s to say he can’t do it again?
But first he has to take care of business on Saturday night where all eyes will be on him to see if he’s still got it.
You won’t be surprised to know that I’m backing the big man to return with a bang. I think he’ll take a couple of rounds to size up his opponent and soak up the feeling of being back in there, but then he’ll want to unleash those big shots we know he has so I’m backing him to mark his comeback in style and earn a stoppage inside four rounds.
Follow Anthony Crolla on Twitter @ant_crolla
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