Former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury forced Sefer Seferi to quit after four rounds of a comfortable comeback on Saturday.
The Englishman ended a two-year seven-month exile with an untroubled win over Albania’s Switzerland-based Seferi in a non-title bout at the Manchester Arena.
Fury extended his unbeaten record to 26 wins, 19 by knockout, while Seferi suffered his second defeat in 25 fights.
“I felt fantastic, it was like having my debut again,” Fury said in the ring.
“I’ve had a long time out the ring and I needed some rounds, so I was taking my time. The calibre of opponents will keep on rising. I will be better next time.”
After the layoff, during which he put on eight stones and suffered from depression, Fury showed he is still in business but it was not fluent until he began swatting his considerably smaller and lighter opponent around the ring in the fourth round.
Seferi was seven inches shorter and nearly five stones lighter than Fury, who used his reach and height to ensure there was never any danger of an upset.
Fury, 29, showed few glimpses of the impressive movement around the ring he did in is previous fight when he upset Wladimir Klitschko on points for the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) titles in November 2015.
It was not always pretty from Fury, but it allowed the 6ft 9in Englishman to shed some of the ring rust before moving on to harder tests.
Promoter Frank Warren plans on Fury fighting again in Belfast, probably at Windsor Park, on August 18.
Fury played to the crowd in the first round and looked a bit embarrassed when Seferi tried to rough up the former champion.
Fury’s first decent bit of work came at the end of the first round, when he landed a quick combination, but in the second referee Phil Edwards told him off for his conduct.
Seferi did a good job of surviving and Fury struggled to lay a glove on him in the second.
Seferi showed some ambition in the third but Fury picked him off with his long arms and heavy blows in the fourth. Fury was into stride and Seferi was pulled out of the fight before the fifth.
Fury has plans to regain his three world titles, now in the possession of English rival Anthony Joshua, and his one potential future opponent could be Germany’s Manuel Charr who was ringside.
Charr holds the WBA ‘regular’ belt, a secondary world title, and beat Seferi on points in September 2016.
Joshua and Deontay Wilder, the American who holds the World Boxing Council (WBC) belt, remain distant targets for Fury as they are in talks to face each other.
But just boxing again seemed unlikely at times for Fury during a troublesome period away from boxing.
After twice pulling out of rematches with Klitschko, Fury then admitted problems with mental health, drinking too much and cocaine use before it was revealed he failed a drugs test for the banned steroid nandrolone in February 2015.
Fury was eventually given a backdated two-year ban and in his exile he piled on the pounds. He looked in reasonable shape on his comeback, although still has some weight to lose before his next outing.