I just watched the video of the Tyson Fury vs Francesco Pianeta heavyweight fight presser that was held on the 14th in Belfast, Ireland. Belfast’s Windsor Park is the site of this weekend’s fight card including the two heavyweights and the featured featherweight title fight between WBO interim featherweight champ and Belfast hometown hero Carl Frampton (25-1) and undefeated Australian contender Luke Jackson (16-0). While there is considerable fan interest in a Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder match, Fury’s fight with Pianeta Saturday night is, as it should be, firmly on the undercard at Windsor Park. Home favorite Frampton, 31, will be taking center-stage for the main event of the night before an expected crowd of 24,000.
This fight card from Belfast is well worth watching this Saturday, if only to do your own progress report on Tyson Fury’s comeback (not to take anything away from the main event: Frampton, who calls no quarter and gives none is guaranteed entertaining.)
Present at the Fury vs Pianeta presser were the combatants, Fury’s trainer Ben Davison, promoters Frank Warren and John Rawling. Fury (26-0), considered the lineal heavyweight champion, is on the comeback trail and is looking and sounding impressive, a man on a mission. Whatever were his demons after the Wladimir Klitschko fight, he has dealt with them. Fury shared the press conference with his opponent Francesco Pianeta (35-4-1), a southpaw and a game journeyman who has fought twice for a world title, but when he fought Wladmir Klitschko he was stopped in six.
Fury is very focused for this upcoming fight. I heard intellect and commitment. He’s lost considerably more weight, at least, as compared to his last fight when though officially, Fury weighed 276 pounds at the weigh in, 66 pounds heavier than Seferi, he looked to me all of 350 lbs. This week Fury looks fit for his fight with Pianeta. But while “The Gypsy King” is looking significantly lighter, he still has a ways to go. A weigh-in photo showed a significant amount of abdominal fat needful of a tummy tuck or thousands more sit-ups or whatever Fury’s weight-loss exercise regimen is.
Nevertheless, he looks like he’s on schedule. More than that, Tyson talks like a professional committed to his craft. After the Klitschko fight, Fury seemed to go nuts partying, drinking, drugging and womanizing, basically he acted a clown. This edition of Fury is no clown. He looks and sounds, mentally and physically, to be the exact opposite of the cocaine-laced quivering bowl of Jell-O that he allowed himself to become after the Klitschko fight. When asked about a fight with Deontay Wilder, he said he isn’t thinking about Wilder at all. He gave props to Pianeta, noting that if he looks past Pianeta, his opponent could wind up beating him and moving on to fight Wilder himself. “I study my heavyweights . . . All I care about is Pianeta, I’m focusing on him and not anyone else.”
“In heavyweight boxing, you take your eye off the goal for one second and you’re out of there. He’s (Pianeta) going to bring his best performance, his ‘A’ game . . .and he’s going to try to knock me out.” He went on to say he’s trained for ten weeks, had four or five good sparring partners, all southpaws, and plans to put on an impressive show.
Fury didn’t show us much last fight, against 39 year-old Albanian Seder Seferi, a mismatch of monumental proportions. I want to see how Fury works the jab. He has the best jab in the business at heavyweight. His jab kept Klitschko off him sufficient for Fury to win the decision in that fight easily. This is an era in boxing in which you see more and more youngsters, and even prospects, lacking some of the basic skills, particularly the jab. Any trainer who has youngsters who need to develop their jab would be remiss if they did not have a disc of the Fury vs Klitschko fight in their gym video library for the youngsters to watch and learn from. As George Foreman has recently re-emphasized, everything in boxing comes off the jab.
This is a fight that should be viewed as a way station to Fury’s inevitable big dances with Wilder and AJ (assuming he isn’t upset by Pianeta), probably in that order. Fury’s comeback bodes well for boxing, as both the heavyweight champs and the heavyweight title contenders (I count Fury in that mix, notwithstanding he’s on the comeback trail) are bringing renewed interest and excitement to the heavyweight division, which still retains its luster for fan interest. Fury becoming a legitimate contender for unifying the titles means there are at least five heavyweights, including the two champs, who are vying for the undisputed title if you count, after AJ and Wilder, Fury, Luis Ortiz and Dillian Whyte.
Finally, while Fury says he isn’t thinking about Wilder, he took a shot earlier in the week to keep Wilder’s mind on him by tagging Wilder with the name “Beyonce,” which I’m lovin’. This is rich. Clearly designed to pitch a Tyson Fury camp in Wilder’s head. I think Wilder has already bitten, mentally. NO ONE whose name is “Deontay” wants to be called “Beyonce” (especially the boxer Deontay who is a little crazy; this is the fool who once said he’d like to kill somebody in the ring [“I want a body on my record. I want one, I really do. … I want that on my record.”], and owns one of the heavyweight championship straps) but the feminine moniker almost fits, three syllables in each name and all. If Wilder wants to get Fury for that moniker, then mission accomplished. Wilder will be at the fight doing color commentary. I’m looking forward to the face-off after the fight. Should be a bit of fun fireworks, crap talkin’ and all. –Ralph M. Semien