‘Guess who’s back?’: Fury’s return rouses heavyweight scene

Tyson Fury is all smiles after it was confirmed he is free to resume his boxing career. (AFP)
Updated 14 December 2017
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‘Guess who’s back?’: Fury’s return rouses heavyweight scene

LONDON: The heavyweight division just got even more interesting.
Only a few minutes had passed after the news broke that Tyson Fury was free to box again, following his long-running dispute with Britain’s anti-doping agency, when the man himself took to Twitter.
“Guess who’s back?” Fury tweeted.
Next to those words was a video of him grooving to tunes inside a car.
It was a novel way for someone to react to being found guilty of a doping offense. Then again, Fury is one of a kind.
And that is what makes his imminent return to the ring — subject to him regaining his boxing license — all the more exciting.
The heavyweight scene has been revived since Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to win the WBA, IBF, and WBO belts. The Klitschko brothers — Wladimir and Vitali — were regarded as boring, with their dual, decade-long dominance a turn-off.
Now, the division boasts a new breed of fighters, champions from three different continents in Britain’s Anthony Joshua (WBA and IBF), America’s Deontay Wilder (WBC) and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (WBO).
Then there’s Fury, back to stir things up even more.
The loudmouth Briton and his cousin Hughie accepted backdated two-year doping bans on Tuesday after providing elevated levels of nandrolone in urine samples following fights in February 2015. Both boxers said they “never knowingly or deliberately committed any anti-doping rule violation” and were willing to come to a compromise agreement with UK Anti-Doping in what proved a convoluted, drawn-out case.
The bans were backdated to Dec. 13, 2015, and expired at midnight on Tuesday.
Fury must get back his license, which was suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control last year over separate incidents of drug use and medical issues, but is now a major player among the heavyweights.
Soon after his “Guess who’s back?” tweet, he called out Joshua by writing: “Where you at boy? I’m coming for you.”
Joshua is likely to fight Parker or Wilder next, potentially in the summer of 2018, but — in Britain, at least — the box office fight would be Joshua vs. Fury, which would be promoted as the national treasure taking on the bad boy. Both are unbeaten as professionals and have contrasting fighting styles.
“Next year I will be back doing what I do best, better than ever and ready to reclaim the world titles which are rightfully mine,” Fury said in a statement from his promoter. “It’s time to get the party started.”
Fury will need to shed the pounds, having bloated up to 350 pounds (nearly 160 kilograms), and has posted videos recently of him working in the gym. He will also need some fights to get sharp enough and mentally ready to handle the likes of Joshua and Parker.
But Fury prides himself on being a natural boxer — he comes from a bloodline of bare-knuckle Gypsy fighters — and doesn’t believe it will take long to be back to his best.
“I’ll fight my way back, nice and steady — 2018 is going to be a big year, a turnaround year,” he said on British TV show “Soccer PM” on Saturday. “Two years out of the ring. There’s only been Muhammad Ali and maybe a couple of others who have come back after two years (out) and been successful. And they probably didn’t live the life I’ve lived outside boxing.
“Outside boxing, I’m not an athlete at all. I’m not an athlete in boxing! So it’s going to be a hard road back, but I’m more than capable of doing it.”
 


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”