Tyson Fury is back, and he’s back with a bang.
His return to the ring this weekend against Dillian Whyte is one of the most anticipated fights of the year and will likely see the biggest attendance in British boxing history, with more than 90,000 packing into Wembley Stadium for the event on Sunday morning April 24 Australian time.
That’s only half of the story. This is a contest replete with narrative, and in typical boxing style, that goes well beyond simply the two blokes punching on in the middle of the ring.
For Tyson Fury, this is something of a homecoming. While he’s the heavyweight champion of the world, the self-proclaimed People’s Champ and the even-more-self-proclaimed Gypsy King, the big man from Manchester hasn’t fought in Britain since 2018 – and even that was a glorified exhibition – and hasn’t had a meaningful contest since 2015’s win over Christian Hammer.
He won his world title on the road in Germany in 2015 and has fought five times in the United States: great for us in Australia, where those fights happen in the middle of the afternoon, but terrible for his home fans, who have to get up at 4am to watch them. Now they know how we feel about almost all sporting events, right?
Naturally, the demand to see Fury back on British soil has been huge. They have flogged 94,000 seats for this scrap, and you’d be right in guessing that not many of them have come to see Dillian Whyte.
That’s a record for the UK, by the way, outstripping eternal rival Anthony Joshua, who sold 90,000 at Wembley for his victory over Wladimir Klitschko, and the biggest crowd since Julio Cesar Chavez v Greg Haugen at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in 1993. Canelo, you know where you need to do the next fight, right?
I say that nobody is here to see Dillian Whyte, and largely, that’s correct. But they shouldn’t sleep on the 34-year-old Brixton fighter. He’s been consistently one of the most entertaining fighters in the world, regardless of division, regardless of anything. Whyte is box office.
He’s an old school heavyweight in the sense that he’ll take on just about anyone, go toe-to-toe and have a swing. Whyte got his shot at the champ the hard way, by beating everyone else around him and then waiting a long, long time – over 1,000 days – as the number one contender.
He first came to prominence in 2015, losing to Anthony Joshua but giving him the fright of his life in a chaotic fight that saw his mates invade the ring. Despite the defeat, Whyte was advanced by his performance in such good company and went on to defeat contenders Robert Helenius, Dereck Chisora (twice, in two classics) and our very own Lucas Browne, whom he laid out in spectacular style.
In that time, he also outpointed Joseph Parker and Oscar Rivas, both exceptional fighters, before getting knocked out by heavyweight stalwart Alexander Povetkin, only to avenge the defeat by knocking out the Russian last March. What we’re saying here is that any Dillian Whyte fight is worth watching.
Oh, and that’s just the boxing. Whyte had a crazy upbringing, bouncing between Jamaica and London, was shot and stabbed and fathered a child at 13. He was also a champion kickboxer, but also had drug issues and served a ban between 2012 and 2014. Like I said, box office.
We can’t talk about this fight without mentioning the elephant in the room. The elephant in this case is Daniel Kinahan, a reputed mob figure who founded MTK Global, a promotional company previously used by Fury and a range of other boxers.
Fury’s US promoter Bob Arum admitted that his Top Rank company had paid MTK across four Fury fights, including the trilogy with Deontay Wilder. Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter in the UK, has said that his company have nothing to do with MTK and have never paid them a penny.
This all came to a head two weeks ago, when the US government announced sanctions against Kinahan, who has never been convicted of a crime, but is widely seen as one of the biggest figures in the European drug trade.
Various authorities in his native Ireland, as well as the recent involvement from the US government, have put warrants out for his arrest and link him to a series of murders as part of a gangland feud.
The implication is that Fury is linked to Kinahan via his relationship with MTK, whose logo he wore for several years on his attire. The pair have been photographed together in the past, and Fury shouted him out in a video in mid-2020.
Fury vigorously denies any wrongdoing or connections, but that hasn’t stopped every journalist trying to get answers about how close the pair are for the last two weeks.
MTK put out a statement announcing that it was folding at the end of this month – thought to be because, as a result of sanctions, no US company can now do business with them or their fighters – but the issue remains hanging over this fight.
This is an easy one for Australian viewers: The fight is live on PPV on Stan Sport.
The ringwalk for the main event is set for 7am AEST, or at least no earlier than that, depending on the length of the undercard fights. In practice, the ringwalks for major UK fights is around 8am AEST, but it’s worth tuning in earlier to make sure you don’t miss the big show.
There’s a fair bit of undercard action that makes it worth watching, too. Tyson’s brother, Tommy Fury, will continue his development. The big story isn’t so much that he’s fighting, because he’s a rank novice, but that’s he’s there at all.
Tommy is a huge social media star in the UK, having won TV dating show Love Island a few years ago, and is more likely to enter into a celebrity fight with Jake Paul than to actually have a serious boxing career. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining to see him develop.