Retirements, talk of comebacks, videos in training camps, photos of him drunk; when it comes to Tyson Fury, we’ve heard and seen it all in the last 12 months. This being said, forgive my optimism for believing that 2018 could be the year that we see the big return of “The Furious One”.
Never before has the phrase “with a pinch of salt” been more apt when describing Fury’s promises and statements, but with the following Tweet airing on Thursday, it’s given his fans and foes alike a reason to expect a ring return for the former unified heavyweight world champion.
So, with three big fights promised from Fury in 2018 starting in April, there is enough time for us to believe that this time, perhaps, we can believe what we read from Tyson. Fool me once, fool me twice.. fool me as many times as you like, however let's plot the possible route and opponents for the long awaited return.
1 Shannon Briggs (60-6-1)
Failed drugs tests, struggling to get a licence and inactivity; Shannon "The Cannon" Briggs shares a lot of similarities with Tyson Fury of late. Goading Fury on social media, like he did unsuccessfully with David Haye for months and months, Briggs has made his intentions clear to fight Fury as they both look to make their returns to the ring.
With talk that Fury is yet to be granted a boxing licence, especially in the UK, a fight with Briggs in a bizarre location that WOULD permit the pair licences isn't beyond the realm of possibility.
With his only fight since September 2015 lasting under a round in a knockout of Argentinean journeyman Emilio Zarate, Briggs' inactivity is a worry for promoters worldwide, and at the age of 45 there are concerns if he has any miles left on the clock. Boxing aside, this fight would grab the media spotlight despite being somewhat of a ''freak show' and would elevate both fighters back into the boxing market for good.
April 2018 will soon come around and a "Fury vs Briggs" headline fight somewhere in Europe wouldn't be the strangest sight we've seen in the squared circle.
- Shannon Briggs' Instagram account
2 Joseph Parker (24-0)
Following a possible 'come-back' fight against Briggs, avenging his cousin Hughie Fury's defeat to Parker would be an ideal way for Fury to regain a piece of his heavyweight crown.
Despite not letting his right hand go in their heavyweight title fight in September, the Fury's cried foul play in a decision which saw Parker regain his title in Manchester with a majority decision.
With Old Trafford a suitable location for a summer blockbuster fight between these two, Parker vs Fury would make sense for both fighters, with enough money being made to warrant Parker making another trip over from New Zealand.
3 Anthony Joshua (19-0)
Now bear with me. If pieces one and two fit together, then piece three has got to be a unification fight with Anthony Joshua.
As domestic dustups go, not much could rival this clash of heavyweights with Wembley Stadium being the only viable option. 90,000 tickets would fly for this bout, and if we are assuming Fury beats Parker in the summer, then a fight for three quarters of the heavyweight gold is nearly the perfect recipe.
Joshua has mandatory requirements to fulfil in the meantime in the form of Kubrat Pulev, however if "AJ" can entice Deontay Wilder into the ring before the summer, then this fight could potentially be for all of the heavyweight gold, sitting at the summit of the sport in becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion.
There are a lot of ifs, plenty of buts and a plethora of maybes, however if Tyson Fury can get himself in shape for the beginning of 2018 we could be in for one of the most interesting rides the sport has ever seen.
Until then, let's keep our fingers crossed and be patient as we await the return of one sport's most polarising characters.
What path do you see for Tyson Fury in 2018? Comment below...
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