Undefeated British heavyweight Tyson Fury insists he is fully focused on new opponent Joey Abell ahead of his long-awaited return to the ring on Feb.15 at the Copper Box Arena, east London.
The non-title bout, scheduled for 10 rounds, is deemed a warm-up for the Manchester contender’s already-agreed early summer showdown against fellow-Englishman Dereck Chisora, who tops the bill in Hackney Wick a week Saturday when defending his WBA and WBO international straps against USA challenger Kevin Johnson.
Fury, 25, had been slated face Gonzalo Omar Basile in his first fight in almost a year, having twice had a proposed battle against David Haye scrapped because of injury to the 31-year-old former WBA heavyweight holder. But now Argentina’s Basile is also crocked, paving the way for 32-year-old Abell (29-7, 28 knockouts) to fill the void.
Abell, a 6-foot-4 Minnesota southpaw, clearly hits hard but last time out in December was stopped in the fifth round by another of the serious unbeaten contenders, Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev, ranked No.1 in THE RING’s heavyweight ratings.
“Abell is big and he can punch. Just what I want on my comeback,” said Fury (21-0, 15 KOs), the magazine’s No.5 who needed seven rounds to finish off Steve Cunningham in March 2013 after being dropped in the second. “One thing I do respect about him is his power. He’s got a great knock out record and in the heavyweights it only takes one shot to turn things around.
“He’ll have confidence in seeing that I was floored by Cunningham and he’ll want to have a good go, he likes to get things done early with a lot of his knockouts coming in the first few rounds. Who knows? He could land one on me. This is his big chance to make a name and upset the future of the heavyweight division.
“I love these American opponents they have all the talk, but I hope and pray that he does bring it on and comes at me swinging away because it will be one hell of a tear up and there’s one thing I don’t come off second best in, and that’s a fight.
“I’m in perfect shape though and even though Abell is a late substitute there’s no way he’ll knock me off course for my summer rendezvous with Mr. Chisora, who has his own Yank to deal with in Johnson. I’ll do my job and if he’s does his then we’re all set for a summer settler.”
A busy card at the arena used for boxing at London 2012 also includes super middleweight Frank Buglioni defending his European title against Gaetano Nespro and another outing for rising home heavyweight Hughie Fury, cousin to Tyson.
You can follow UK sports writer Harry Pratt on Twitter: @gharrypratt