ONE STEP AT A TIME
By Frank Warren
THE WELCOME RETURN of Tyson Fury to the ring against Sefer Seferi was never going to be a Fight of the Year contender that had you on the edge of your seat – and nor did we ever pretend it would be.
The facts speak forthemselves. Tyson was taking the first step back after a prolonged spell of inactivity, serious mental health problems, as well as binge drinking and eating.
He deserves huge applause and support for getting to where he currently is in a relatively shortspace of time and he got that from a bumper15,000-plus crowd at the Manchester Arena on Saturday who knew what they were watching.
The fans turned out in force to get behind him at the start of his new journey and the atmosphere created inside the arenawas both magnificent and memorable.
The sniping, about everything from his opponent to his physical condition, has come from other quarters.
Saturday wasn’t about getting Tyson back in the heavyweight mix, it was about getting him back in the game. He has shed more than eight stone and still has a bit more to lose, so his training was tailored more around weight loss than actually preparing for a fight.
The fight against Seferi was no more than a means to an end and this is how you bring people back after such a long exile and the loss of so much weight.
We never made any claims suggesting Seferi was anything but a small stepping stone back for Tyson.
The bottom line of all this isthat he did what he had to do – he got in there and got some of the ring rust out of himself.
The physical differences between Tyson and Seferi were immaterial. We did not make the fight based upon height or weight, we simply picked someone who we believed could give Tyson some valuable time under the lights in the ring.
The Sun newspaper treated its readers to its usual blinkered coverage of any event not broadcast by Sky and did its utmost to ridicule the return of Tyson before a punch was even thrown.
Contrast the reporting of Tyson’s comeback fight to that of Amir Khan in April – who got knocked out sparko in his previous fight and had been the subject of all sorts of negativity in between times in his private life – fighting a guy, Phil lo Greco, who no-one on this earth thought he was going to get beaten by.
It was a selection I understood and didn’t criticise, stating that I would do exactly the same in such a situation, as I would with Tyson.
This did not stop the Sun going to town in a bid to sell the fight for Sky, which comes about as a direct result of cross-ownership of media outlets.
When it came to Tyson’s return, because it was not on Sky, all we got was ridicule and total negativity.
It is an absolute liberty and to follow it up on the Sunday with a story where I am supposed to have said he is toobig for his pants is just a blatant liberty.
I emphasised to the reporter at the weigh-in – when he kept banging on about Tyson’s pants being on the small side – that he wore them on behalf of Oddballs, who campaign and raise awareness of testicular cancer.
They were obviously a bit too tight for him, which highlighted a bit of surplus flesh around his lower back, and this has now developed into another bulls**t story by the Sun.
The Sun is a Murdoch-owned newspaper who bang the drum for Sky and I should know because I once had an association with both. I know that calls get made to drum up publicity or controversy around fights because I was involved in it, so I know how it works.
Also disturbing and completely uncalled for is the editing and posting of a video clip with the claim that Tyson threatened to throw a journalist out of his post-fight press conference.
I was right next to him – and I have watched it back – and it was a tongue in cheek moment of comedy containing absolutely no threat or malice whatsoever.
It was a response to a question about Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder said in complete jest and I take deep offence to the suggestion that it was anything untoward.
If you want to criticise the fight then go ahead and criticise all you like. If he had knocked the fella out in 30-odd seconds like Amir did to lo Greco, then great, but what would he have got out of that.
What Tyson got out of Seferi was getting back in the swing of things, getting back in the groove and performing in public again after something like a thousand days out of the ring.
We will step him up next time against a different kind of opponent.
We never tried to kid people that it was anything other than an exercise to get Tyson’s career off the ground again, which is why we aligned his comeback with a quality undercard that certainly did have people teetering towards the edge of their seats.