By Alan Hubbard
The ginormous frame of Tyson Fury, all 6ft 9in and 19 stone plus of him, looms large over boxing’s busiest night of the year.
Some 17 major events are scheduled around the globe this Saturday featuring internationally renowned names of all shapes and sizes, with Flanagan, Hooker, Mares, Santa Cruz, Charlo, Crawford, Horn and Trout all battling on the same date.
But Fury literally overshadows them all, and come Sunday morning you can bet the one name on everyone’s lips – certainly in this country – will be that of the Gypsy King.
Yes, the biggest talking point in boxing – in every sense of the phrase – is Tyson Fury. Will his long overdue second coming at the Manchester Arena, some two and a half years in the fistic wilderness after he left the enduring Wladimir Klitschko bewitched, bothered and undeniably bewildered, show the world what it has been missing? Or that Fury himself simply has been missing out for too long?
One Sefer Seferi, a cosmopolitan clouter of Albanian extraction, born in Macedonia, resident in Switzerland and weaned on boxing as a pro in Austria and Germany has been drafted in to give us a clue.
The answer may not be immediately forthcoming.
Seferi may turn out to be a more stubborn opponent than many think, having knocked out all but two of 24 opponents… albeit most of them names that would give any MC’s tongue a hernia
Albanians are to heavyweight boxing what sumo wrestlers are to Weight Watchers. With most of his 11-year career listed as a cruiserweight he will concede seven inches in height, at least four stones in weight and at 39 a full decade in age to 29-year-old Fury who, but for that enforced leave of absence, would be in his prime as a heavyweight and probably still ruling the world.
Nonetheless Seferi may turn out to be a more resilient opponent than many think. A late starter in the game, he can certainly bang, having knocked out all but two of 24 opponents albeit most of them names that would give any MC’s tongue a hernia.
However, Fury has avowed that these initial stages of his ring resurrection will be spent putting bums on seats – both in the ring and in the arena.
Not since Muhammad Ali mouthed off so magnificently has anyone talked such a good fight. Fury has already shown the shrewdness of Frank Warren’s exclusive investment by whipping up bucketloads of appetite-whetting, ticket-selling publicity on TV and radio and filling the pages of public prints from Rolling Stone Magazine to the Guardian and Sunday Times, as well as the red tops, with in-depth interviews.
He tells us why he needed a fresh start with new young trainer Ben Davison and insists that the sublime tactics he produced against Klitschko were of his own improvisation and not as laid down by his uncle and then guru Peter.
“We had a strategy going into the fight but I didn’t use it. I just freewheeled and had fun. I stole the belts from under Klitschko’s nose.
“Now I feel like a fish that has been put back into the water. I have never, ever, been better or stronger or fitter or faster or had more timing. I mean it. I’ve sparred hundreds and hundreds of rounds in the gym, I’m doing very, very well.
“The fans can expect to see me at my best – I’m the most flamboyant heavyweight on the planet..
You can say that again… and again!
MO IS THE BUZZ-NAME in sport at the mo-ment! Mo Farah, Mo Salah… now will Mo Hooker add his mo-niker to the list?
Terry Flanagan insists not. He and Maurice Hooker (aka Mighty Mo) are fighting for the vacant WBO super-lightweight belt on the bumper Manchester bill, the Mancunian having left behind his lightweight title in a long-anticipated move up to 140 pounds.
Flanagan has always been one of my favorite Queensberry Men and my only concern is the 14 months ring absence which helps make this a real fight and not a foregone conclusion.
The little-known’ Mighty Mo’, from Dallas, Texas, is 29, tall, rangy and unbeaten in 26 contests.
Mentored by the scintillating Terence Crawford (whose own weekend WBO welterweight title challenge against Aussie holder Jeff Horn in Las Vegas is screened live by BoxNation) has been on the cusp of this championship for several years, fighting at 140-pounds since his pro debut in April 2011.
A leggy, awkward right-hander who can take a shot Hooker certainly isn’t just showing up on his UK debut for a just a pay cheque.
“We’ve watched quite a bit of tape of Flanagan that we plan on taking advantage of,” says trainer Vince Parra.
“Flanagan is the product of a great promoter, they’re looking for another Ricky Hatton. You move up when you want to be the best … he has a great record but I believe Mo is the better boxer, the better puncher – we come from a higher level of boxing.”
Well, let’s see what happens when The Turbo drills a left hook deep into the heart of the Texan.
Live coverage from the Manchester Arena begins at 7pm on BT Sport