Tyson Fury finishes Sefer Seferi with 4th-round TKO in lackluster return to the ring

Tyson Fury celebrates his win against Sefer Seferi on June 9 . (Reuters)

Tyson Fury is back.

Sort of.

I mean, what was that on Saturday? Fury’s return after a nearly three-year layoff wasn’t expected to be a bare-knuckle brawl, but how about an opponent that offers at least a little resistance? Sefer Seferi is a 39-year-old cruiserweight without a notable win on his résumé. He came for the paycheck. When he got tired of tasting Fury’s chest hairs — which came after the fourth round, where Seferi might have been hit by one or two shots — he quit.

Seferi calls himself “The Real Deal.” Evander Holyfield should insist he stop.

What a farce. And what does Fury get out of a fight like that? Shake the rust off? He got better work in sparring. Take an actual punch? Seferi didn’t throw any. This dull duo spent two rounds dancing in the ring and tapping gloves, and the next two bear-hugging each other.

The best fight of the night was the melee that broke out in the crowd, a brawl that played out within the camera shot — and one that got even Fury and Seferi’s attention.

Everybody wants Tyson Fury to be relevant again. He’s good for boxing. It’s been a long road. His mental health issues and ballooning weight ended his heavyweight title reign before he could make a defense. He has spent the last three years retiring, unretiring, kicking a cocaine habit and dealing with debilitating depression. His signature win over Wladimir Klitschko feels like a lifetime ago.

At the moment, Fury seems to be piecing his life back together. His career is another story. He beat Klitschko, but it was far from a decisive win. And an argument can be made that Fury’s talent isn’t on the level of Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, the division’s kingpins. Fury is not a big puncher, is a little chinny and rarely enters a fight in great shape. He shed 100 pounds before the Seferi fight and stilled weighed in at 276, a career high.

But he’s a charismatic figure in a sport that badly needs them. He loves to trash-talk, and when he gets in the ring, he comes to fight. He’s unorthodox, the anti-Joshua, a hulking heavyweight who fights more like a nimble welterweight.

Britain’s Tyson Fury, right, punches Sefer Seferi during their heavyweight bout at the Manchester Arena, in Manchester, England, Saturday June 9, 2018. (AP)

Is that Fury still in there? Fights like Seferi won’t tell us. Frank Warren — who has taken control of Fury’s career — has to find opponents that will. Warren said Fury will return in August, in Belfast, on a card headlined by Carl Frampton. Warren talked about Fury’s need to shake the rust off, to keep losing weight, and that’s all true. Fury, however, is targeting a title fight by the end of the year. That’s not going to happen, but Warren suggested a showdown with Tony Bellew, the ex-cruiserweight champion who stopped David Haye last month for the second time in as many fights.

Against Bellew, this Fury would get blown out.

Look, I know there isn’t a rush. Fury is 29, and he can wait for the dust to settle on the Joshua-Wilder rivalry before injecting himself into it. The fans at Manchester Arena on Saturday weren’t thrilled with the outcome, but Fury has proven he can draw a crowd. He can continue to shed weight, sharpen his skills and maybe by the middle of next year be ready for a significant fight.

Just no more Seferi-level opponents, OK? Fury needs real, live heavyweights who want to beat him, not ones just happy to share the ring with him. He needs to face adversity if he’s going to be ready for what’s coming against Joshua or Wilder. Fury being back is a good thing. Fury proving he can stay there would be better.

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