The Greatest Comeback: Lester Piggott in the 1990 Breeder’s Cup Mile or Tyson Fury winning the WBC title?
Harry Howes | 12 June 2020
Who will you vote for today?
Our quest to discover the greatest sporting comeback of all time continues today with the second quarter-final match-up.
First up is Lester Piggott, whose return to racing at the age of 54 to win the Breeder’s Cup Mile was voted ahead of the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl 51 win.
The legendary jockey is up against Tyson Fury, whose boxing comeback and WBC title win thrashed Kauto Star’s King George Chase triumph in our poll.
But only one of our contenders can reach the semi-final stage. Who will you choose?
Lester Piggott in the 1990 Breeder’s Cup Mile
Regarded as one of flat racing’s greatest ever jockeys, Lester Piggott is a household name and the fact he won one of the world’s richest races doesn’t necessarily come as a shock.
But when you consider Piggott did so at 54 years old, having not ridden competitively for five years and having spent more than a year in prison, it’s a little bit more impressive.
He enjoyed a remarkable career, riding 11 winners in the Ascot Gold Cup, nine in the Epsom Derby and five in the 2,000 Guineas, as well as being crowned the British flat racing Champion Jockey on 11 occasions.
Piggott enjoyed 4,493 career wins and at the end of the 1985 flat season he made the decision to call it a day and become a trainer instead. He tasted success in retirement, housing 97 horses and sending out 34 winners in total.
But in the years that followed, he tarnished his legacy and was stripped of his OBE after being convicted and jailed for tax fraud.
Following his release, Piggott shocked the racing world by announcing his intention to make his comeback as a jockey in 1990, replacing the injured John Reid on Royal Academy, the favourite for the prestigious Breeder’s Cup Mile.
In anticipation of the season-ending event across the pond, Piggott narrowly finished second in Leicester on his comeback, before winning two races at Chepstow the following day.
And just 12 days after his Leicester return, Piggott completed his remarkable comeback to racing by sweeping down the outside to win the mile by a neck ahead of 36/1 shot Itsallgreektome.
The British jockey continued racing for a further five years, winning the 2,000 Guineas in 1992 with Rodrigo de Triano, before finally retiring for good in 1995.
Tyson Fury winning the WBC heavyweight title
Comebacks don’t come much bigger than this. Tyson Fury looked set for years of dominance in the heavyweight division after beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.
But despite a date being set for a rematch, injuries delayed the fight and Fury ultimately vacated the titles he had earned against the Russian. As a result, the Gypsy King stopped training and gained a reputation for partying as pictures of his weight gain emerged.
He revealed that a battle with depression had led to a suicide attempt, but after a difficult spell he vowed to return to boxing, motivated by psychiatric help, fitness training, faith in God and a love for his family.
Almost three years after beating Klitschko, Fury returned to the ring in June 2018, beating Sefer Seferi before stopping Francesco Pianeta three months later to set up a WBC heavyweight bout with Deontay Wilder.
Despite dominating much of the fight, Fury was floored in the final round before incredibly getting back to his feet to finish the fight. The judges controversially scored the fight as a draw, setting up a rematch, which took place in February 2020.
Spurred on by the apparent misjustice in the first match-up, Fury stepped up his training regime and was in the shape of his life as he entered the ring with Wilder for the second time, this time in Las Vegas.
And his preparation paid off as he comprehensively out-boxed his opponent. Flooring Wilder in both the third and the fifth, Fury delivered a masterclass and one of modern boxing’s great performances as the American’s corner threw in the towel in the seventh round.
The win capped a tumultuous and remarkable few years for the Gypsy King, elevating him to the heights his win over Klitschko had promised and edging him one step closer to an all-British heavyweight bout with long-time rival Anthony Joshua.
Cast your vote
So there you have it, our next two contenders. Which one do you think is more deserving of a place in our final four? Have your say in our poll on Twitter.
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All odds and markets correct as of date of publication