Tyson Fury To Continue Comeback With Bout Against Pianeta

Tyson Fury To Continue Comeback With Bout Against Pianeta

Former lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury revealed via Twitter on Thursday that his next opponent will be former world title challenger Francesco Pianeta. Fury and Pianeta will square off at Windsor Park in Belfast on the undercard of the August 18 featherweight battle between Carl Frampton and Luke Jackson.

The non-title bout is scheduled for 10 rounds. Pianeta should provide a reasonable step up in competition from Fury’s comeback bout in June, a fourth-round stoppage victory over cruiserweight Sefer Seferi.

Fury’s Comeback Continues

The 29-year-old Fury is on the comeback trail after being away from boxing for 32 months. Fury defeated Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 by outboxing the Ukrainian over 12 rounds in Germany. The win netted Fury a slew of heavyweight championship honors, including the WBA, WBO and IBF world titles along with those offered by Ring Magazine and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB).

But soon after the biggest win of his professional career, Fury’s life inside and outside the ring was embittered in turmoil. His was originally scheduled for a rematch against Klitschko in July 2016 but the fight was postponed to October after Fury sprained an ankle during training camp.

In June 2016, Fury was charged with an anti-doping violation by the UK Anti-Doping agency (UKad) who claimed to have found elevated levels of the banned steroid nandrolone in one of Fury’s samples dated back to February 2015. Fury denied the allegations, claiming to have tested positive due to having eaten contaminated wild boar meat.

Just a month before Fury’s rescheduled rematch with Klitschko was set to take place, Fury was again charged by the UKad with another violation. Fury tested positive for cocaine this time, and the fighter revealed soon after in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine he had been using the illicit drug to battle mental health issues including depression and suicidal ideation.

After a tumultuous back and forth affair that could have lead to bankruptcy for the UKad, Fury reached a compromise with the agency in December 2017 for a retroactive two-year ban. He almost immediately started training for a return to boxing, losing over 100 pounds in the process to get back into fighting shape.

Pianeta Carefully Chosen

While Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs) challenged former heavyweight champion Klitschko in 2013 and also Ruslan Chagaev two years later for a secondary heavyweight title, the veteran Italy born southpaw isn’t a true heavyweight contender. Pianeta was chosen by Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, because he’s good enough to give Fury some rounds but not really all that capable of defeating him.

When Fury made his return against Seferi in June, he was doing so against such purposely limited opposition that all he had to do pretty much was get through the rigors of training camp and show up in Manchester on fight night to be assured a comeback win. While Seferi was undefeated as a cruiserweight, the Albanian had been knocked out in his lone appearance in the heavyweight division against middling contender Manuel Charr in 2017.

Fury-Seferi was a glorified sparring session with nary a meaningful punch thrown by either fighter until the fourth round, after which Seferi retired in his corner.

While Pianeta won’t wow anyone with his skill set or ability level, the Germany-based heavyweight is at least natural to the weight, much bigger and stronger than Seferi, and a fighter with some experience against world class opposition.

According to Warren, getting Fury a decent number of rounds under his belt is important before moving him forward against better opposition:

“The ideal for us in Belfast would be to get some worthwhile rounds into Tyson. I don’t believe we will have him playing up to the crowd on this occasion because he will need to be more business-like in a riskier fight and also because of his desire to start putting a marker down once again in the heavyweight division.”

Pianeta is a much more capable fighter than was Seferi, and should at least provide Fury a few more meaningful minutes of actual prizefighting.

Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder are Fury’s Targets

Boxing’s last lineal heavyweight champion according to the TBRB, Fury’s return to boxing, and all the fights making up his comeback, are a bid to ultimately wrestle the major heavyweight titles away from the likes of Anthony Joshua, who wears the IBF, WBA and WBO belts, and Deontay Wilder, the WBC title holder.

The three fighters together form a trio of excellent heavyweights, something boxing’s heavyweight division hasn’t really had since the late 1990s when Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson were fighting each other for world championships.

All three have claimed at least a share of the heavyweight championship over the course of their careers and are undefeated. While Fury probably needs a fight or two more to shake off the ring rust he accumulated during the long layoff, the three men are otherwise considered in the prime years of their fighting careers.

Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs), 28, from the U.K., and WIlder (40-0, 39 KOS), 32, from the United States, appear to be on a collision course sooner rather than later. The two had reportedly agreed to terms for a fall date before the fight was lost due to some wrangling by the IBF. Joshua is now assumed to be facing Alexander Povetkin, the mandatory IBF challenger on Sept. 22, with a potential Wilder unification fight on the horizon for April 13.

That should give Fury plenty of time shake off the cobwebs against fighters like Pianeta and a few more decent heavyweights, before having to face someone actually capable of defeating him. Once Fury and his team feel like they are ready to compete with Joshua and Wilder, which likely won’t happen until late 2019, the boxing world will hopefully be treated to a round robin of classic heavyweight action.