Tyson Fury says he could have knocked out Sefer Seferi within “10 seconds” but prolonged the bout as preparation for potential fights against fellow Britons David Price and Tony Bellew.
Albanian Seferi pulled out after four rounds of a controversial heavyweight bout at Manchester Arena on Saturday.
The men had spent the first two rounds of the non-title fight posturing.
“I could have knocked him out, but what would that have got me?” said former WBA, IBF and WBO world champion Fury.
The former world champion, 29, insisted he was “just getting into a rhythm” when the bout ended, and promoter Frank Warren also expressed frustration at his man not getting the chance to contest more rounds.
Warren said he will take Fury’s comeback slowly, with his next bout not until 18 August, but added that Liverpool fighter Bellew was “someone we would go for by the end of the year, no problem”.
Shortly after the fight, WBC world cruiserweight emeritus champion Bellew tweeted: “I will knock the big man Tyson Fury out. Simple as that.”
And Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist Price – who was ringside for BBC Radio 5 live – said a fight between him Fury “would create a lot of interest”.
Fury wants ‘someone big’ next
Fury admitted to nerves after a 924-day break from the sport but declared himself “very happy” with his night’s work.
“I can’t put into words how much I enjoyed it,” he said. “It was like having a debut again.”
Fury’s next fight will take place in Belfast and is likely to be the chief support bout as Carl Frampton headlines in his home city.
And his hope is that Warren can find an opponent bigger than Seferi, who at 5ft 11, was 10 inches shorter and almost five stone lighter than a man who has himself lost seven stone in the past six months.
Warren says talk of building Fury towards a bout with WBA, IBF and WBO champion Anthony Joshua, or WBC title-holder Deontay Wilder, is pointless in the short term, with both men likely to be committed to other bouts – including a potential unification fight – until the middle of next year.
Fury added: “I want someone big. Small ones, I don’t like. Joshua and Wilder are over 6ft 5in so I have to prepare for people like that.
“I felt good today, I felt fit, I didn’t feel sluggish, so even if I take another stone off I’ll just be even better. And taking a stone off is pretty easy – that’s just sleeping a few nights.”
Former British champion Price – who stands at 6ft 8in – believes Fury needs to lose “15 or 20lbs” as he “looked really slow on his feet”.
This week, Fury said Price – who beat him as an amateur – was still possibly the biggest puncher among the British heavyweights.
“I’d throw my name into the hat,” said Price, 34.
“I can never remember people being blown away by Tyson Fury but he always finds a way to win. I think whoever you put in front of him, it’s tough to bet against him.”
‘Fury has a lot of work to do’
After another tick-over fight on 18 August, Liverpool’s Price seems a viable candidate if Fury is to step up the calibre of his opponents.
Bellew – who has only fought twice at heavyweight – would arguably pose an even greater threat given his recent eye-catching wins over David Haye and might be deemed too much of a risk if Fury is to position himself for a world-title shot.
The brevity of his win over Seferi made it harder to discern what Fury has retained since his last bout in 2015, when he won three world titles from Wladimir Klitschko.
Since then, depression, cocaine use, substantial weight gain and loss, and a period of ineligibility imposed by UK Anti-doping have brought what looked like a flourishing career to a halt.
BBC Radio 5 live ringside pundit Jamie Moore said: “Tyson Fury has a lot to address when he gets back to the gym. I don’t think he was concentrating when the fight began.
“He’s tough to judge on that performance – it was a show rather than a fight. There’s lots of work to do, and I think it will be four or five fights until we see the Tyson of old.
“I think Tyson Fury would be better, more switched on, if he was up against someone he respected more. Someone he knew could hurt him. He’ll be pleased to get this one out of the way though.”
‘Fury hasn’t had that reaction before’ – analysis
BBC boxing correspondent Mike Costello
Fury looked apprehensive early on and his timing was awry for much of the opening two rounds – all to be expected after so long away.
Seferi was difficult to pin down but Fury began to punish him with solid right hands and the Albanian’s corner decided their man had taken enough as he sat on his stool after four rounds.
There were a few jeers but, generally, the reaction was of a level Fury has not heard before. He’s back, but with much work to do.