Tyson Fury is set for a dramatic return to heavyweight boxing and Betfair writer Frankie Monkhouse looks at his quickest route to the top...
"Betfair Sportsbook has Fury a 5/4 second favourite to prove as good as his word and end the recent dominance of AJ with the Londoner a convincing 8/13 jolly, 33/1 the draw"
Tyson Fury is fast approaching full fitness and on his way back to competitive action. The former world heavyweight champion hasn't been seen in action since that famous win over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 with a share of personal problems to blame for the absence.
It would appear that the 6ft 9inch orthodox is back in love with the sport - certainly if his active Twitter feed is to be believed - and we'll see him strutting his stuff in 2018. Tyson has promised to return to the top of the game, assuring fans he'll rid the division of the bums who have crept in during his time away. You can bet at Betfair on him beating Anthony Joshua before the end of 2018.
Betfair Sportsbook has Fury a 5/4 second favourite to prove as good as his word and end the recent dominance of AJ with the Londoner a convincing 8/13 jolly, 33/1 the draw. There's much work to be done to get Fury to that level and we're sure to see the odds shift plenty along the way.
We look at three fights that could provide a short-cut to Fury v Joshua.....
Carlos Takam would provide a workout
It would rate as an ambitious return and maybe even a bit too risky for whoever takes over the reigns of Tyson Fury's career but we all know what French-based African Carlos Takam brings to the table following his 2017 meeting with Anthony Joshua.
The sturdy 37-year-old stepped in at late notice to save the Cardiff show but wasn't given a hope by anyone of providing a test on the night. In a Rocky Balboa style story, the underdog failed to follow the script, staying on his feet despite a barrage of heavy shots from the opposite corner and dragging the champion into the latter rounds.
The 10th round stoppage stretched Takam's record to 35-4-1 and, if nothing else, we know he'd give Fury a workout on his comeback without causing too many problems. The Cameroon born fighter's performance vs Joshua makes a bout with Tyson worthwhile as it would present the Manchester man with a chance to send out a message, beating Takam more convincingly than AJ did.
Christian Hammer a gateway back to major titles
Romanian Christian Hammer is well thought of in knowledgeable boxing circles and his current record stands at 22-5-0. The 30-year-old stopped a dozen of his first 27 opponents but has been halted three times himself, including an eighth-round defeat at the hands of Fury back in 2015. Tyson has already beaten Hammer, so why go back over old ground?
For one it would give us a chance to see if either has progressed any in the 2+ years that has passed since that result at the O2 Arena in London. We know Hammer has been moving in the right direction, winning five of six fights since, that purple patch including knockout wins over Michael Sprott and David Price. If Fury could match or even better his 2015 effort he'd prove a point, least of all to himself, that he's still got it.
Hammer is another who's difficult to get rid of and the fact he went the 12-round distance with Russian Alexander Povetkin in December 2017 only increased his stock. Promoters would have no problems making Fury-Hammer for a decent ranking title.
Dillian Whyte signals a return to the big time
Dillian Whyte is the type of opponent Joshua could face within three fights and he's the kind of headline act that would get fans excited and the boxing world talking again. An all-British clash, they would sell out any venue in the UK and if Whyte continued the way he's going the money men could even convince us it was pay-per-view quality, after a dramatic build-up, of course.
Whyte would be no easy win either as he's a progressive fighter heading for the top. He proved that when dismantling previously unbeaten Australian Lucas Browne in six rounds. Also gave Joshua a bit of a fright when the pair met in a grudge match December 2015.
Whyte was stopped in seven by Joshua - which doesn't look great on paper - but it was a thrilling contest with the eventual winner dazed early in the battle. Many thought The Bodysnatcher could've got him man out of there if he had shown a little more composure.
With that stuck in the minds of British fight fans Fury would see a match-up as a great chance to show-off his boxing skills, send a warning to Anthony and get the job done in style. Fury v Whyte would be the perfect test for the returning king to prepare himself for battle with the current ruler.