Tyson Fury: The king speaks…
“It doesn’t feel too good, to be honest,” answered Morecambe-based traveller Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) when Boxing Monthly asked the heavyweight world champion how it feels to be number one in his division. “I feel as if the limelight’s on me. Everywhere I go, people want a picture of me and everything I say is picked up - I don’t have my own life anymore.”
Fury’s sentiments echo those of previous champions, some of them could not go out in public without being recognised, approached and pestered. People wanted autographs in the past, selfies in the present and both take time. Fury is happy to oblige when at fights or on his own. It is a different matter if he is out with his wife, Paris, and their children.
“You can’t avoid me because I’m so tall, if they have any inkling at all they’re straight over to me,” he continued. “I could be out with the lads having a beer, out with my family for Sunday lunch or just out and about. There’s no peace for me, no rest. It’s 24-7 for me, as long as I’m outside the house you know I’m getting harassed.
“It is what it is, I won’t moan about it too much. The limelight comes when you’re the champ. Have you seen that show they did following Peter Andre around his home? They wanted to do one on me. It isn’t for me, so I declined - they can leave all that to someone else as I’m not one for that lifestyle. My money is made through boxing, I am a prize-fighter by trade and that’s enough for me.”
Every king has a crown and a throne, Fury wanted to add a castle to the collection so he went to Scotland to give one the once over prior to Christmas. Former heavyweight world title challenger Earnie Shavers once told me that big houses come with big bills. Previous world champions have fallen into the trap of throwing their money around until the well runs dry. When the big paydays are in the rear-view mirror, big estates become difficult to maintain.
Although Fury has a lot of money at his disposal, he shares Shavers’s viewpoint so opted against buying a castle, instead using the Scottish jaunt to enjoy a bit of privacy. “It wasn’t very populated where I was,” he said, speaking to his earlier point. “I drove up there with my dad and two brothers for a bit of a chill out. I wore my hat and glasses and got away from it all. We went to a little B&B then was back in the car the next day.
“Then I looked into buying a castle properly, as that was a spur of the moment thing. It takes a lot of maintenance, a lot of upkeep goes on with places like that. They look one way on the internet and photographs. They don’t look the same up close and you find out that even funding the drainage is expensive. You could live in one, but you would live like a pauper and not like a king.”
The decision win over Klitschko was seen as a huge upset in most quarters. Fury, though, had emphatically stated that he would win when last speaking to BM. It turns out that he taken inspiration from one of the oldest pieces of wartime subterfuge in literature after taking a leaf out of Odysseus’s book by talking up a KO win then going for the opposite approach.
“It was a case of going to the lion’s den and taking over,” he said, turning his mind back to that November night (the pair rematch on 9 July in Manchester). “Wladimir thought of himself the same way the Trojans did, all safe and sound behind the big walls of his reach, defence, height, jab and grabbing. The Trojans got conquered, though, didn’t they? A little bit of brains conquers all: all nations, all armies and all people.
“Yes, a lucky blow might land but only if I have a trade up, and I won’t do that. If they want a trade up then that’s when I’ll box, when they try to box I’ll trade. You’re not dealing with a dummy. I have my own sense of myself. I invest my own money and do my own thing. I’m not a fool.
“It is not about brawn, muscles or all power, it is about who can think on a technical level better than the next man. We out-thought Klitschko, [Bernd] Boente, [Shelly] Finkel, everybody. I did what I set out to do. I beat the man they said I couldn’t beat. It wasn’t an epic fight, but it was an epic night in Germany, an epic achievement and an epic win.
“I’m not just any old champion, I’m the number one in the heavyweight world. This country has had eight heavyweights who have held belts, we’ve only had three champions: me, Lennox [Lewis] and Bob Fitzsimmons.”
Although the canny former champion had failed to get to his challenger during the pre-fight mind games, Wlad had a few tricks up his sleeve on the night and requested extra padding under the canvas as well as wrapping his hands without the proper supervision.
John Fury, Tyson’s father, kept on top of the situation along with other members of the team; the canvas may have been heavy yet Fury’s mind was unencumbered by the night’s events. “I knew all about it, but I’m not interested in that sort of stuff,” he said.
“I was going to fight anyway. I don’t make excuses so it was up to my team to deal with that. That’s what they get paid for - if it isn’t sorted it’s on them, not me. I was there while the arguments went on. Shout and scream at me or tell me you’ll kill me, none of it matters to me. I don’t say: ‘I have this excuse, I had this on my mind’.
“When I fought [Dereck] Chisora for the second time, my wife had lost a baby, I had buried an uncle [Hughie Fury] and bad stuff was going on, however my mind is concrete. I am not weak-minded. I out-conquer things like that.”
After years of Klitschko dominance, few thought that Fury could walk away with a decision in the Ukrainian’s adopted homeland. The 27-year-old former British, Commonwealth and EBU titlist believes he went one further by winning over the German fans with his performance and post-fight rendition of ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’.
“They loved it, the Germans, didn’t they?” he both asked and answered. “The world has not seen anyone like me. Even Muhammad Ali, as great as he was, didn’t do the things I do. He didn’t put his hands behind his back in front of a super champion when within firing range and just rely on head movement. He sang songs, just not in the ring after winning the titles. He did a lot of controversial stuff, which I’ve done, yet he doesn’t do the entertainment stuff the way I do.
“He did showboat when out-of-range, doing show pony moves, so maybe that was silly of me - I just like doing those moves. The Germans wanted to see a new champion, everyone did. As much as they loved Klitschko they wanted an outgoing champion, and now they’ve got one.”
RATING THE OPPOSITION, PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE
In his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, Muhammad Ali recalled watching fighters in various dressing rooms; it was brought to his notice that ones in lower weight classes formed friendships and mingled.
He wrote that an old trainer called ‘Reverend’ Williams had argued that heavies cannot do this as they are ‘dinosaurs’, the apex predators of the sport. Heavyweights do not socialise or form friendships, they spar, get into contention and then fight one another.
Fighters in other divisions can go up or down, in the majority of cases heavyweights have to stick to that division and are only intent on knocking each other down.
Fury, though, believes they should be called ‘dinosaurs’ for a different reason, arguing that the atypical heavyweight fighter cannot adopt their style. He said: “Yeah, as Ali said the dinosaurs fight the dinosaurs, but they all think the biggest and baddest one will win. Heavyweight fights are just people bashing into each other hoping for the best. They can’t move, they pump weights and punch holes in walls then call themselves fighters.
“Of course, you can knock something over if you can hit it when it is standing in front of you, try hitting a target that’s on the move and using head movement like me and Ali do. It’s not about lifting weights or doing squats, it’s about a lot more.
“These heavyweights all rely on brawn, there’s no footwork at all. I don’t know any heavyweight apart from myself, Hughie and Klitschko who can use footwork. It all comes down to brains, not weight lifting. If you have more brains than the next man you will do better than him. If you’re behind the door you won’t get anywhere.”
“[WBC title-holder] Deontay Wilder trips over his own feet, [IBF holder Charles] Martin is a rank novice, his best previous win was Tom Dallas, [Joseph] Parker tries to rip holes in people by staying in firing range, [Anthony] Joshua looks to do the same, and Andy Ruiz Jr throws combinations yet can’t move because he weighs about 300lbs. Alexander Povetkin has been left out because he’s too small for the division. I met him in New York, he’s tiny - no wonder Klitschko had a field day with him.
“They throw hard, straight punches, brawling rather than boxing. If Klitschko, a supreme heavyweight and one of the best of all time, can’t land hard punches on me over 12 rounds then what can they do to me? How am I going to get hit by some stiff heavyweight with legs like tree trunks?”
If you go by what Fury says, he will have to invent a time machine to find a worthy challenger. However, he also told me that greats of days gone by would have been meat and drink for him.
“Those men cannot challenge me because they’re all too small,” he said when asked if he wished he could have operated in a different era. “I’d have plastered those 6’ 1’’ or 6’ 2’’ men. I am the greatest who ever lived. I admire Ali, [Mike] Tyson and all those men, they’re just too small. I have size, movement, agility and everything a heavyweight needs.
“There were a few tidy fights for me in the past such as Larry Holmes, who was a good heavyweight with a good jab. He was one of the greatest of all times. Lennox Lewis was another big, tall one with a good jab only he liked to stand in the pockets a bit more and punch. Who else is there who is tall with a great jab?”
With that, it was time to ask Fury what was next for him should he ease past Klitschko a second time. He said: “I want to fight Wilder then clean up after that. My problem is that I want everything today and not tomorrow. I want to fight the best, not do what Klitschko did and line up 25 handpicked opponents.
“So it is Wilder and then some undefeated lad who has been built up, Joshua or Parker - give me whoever they think is the best. I don’t want whoever is number 15 or lower with the WBA or WBO. If there are people who the others don’t want to fight then send those ones my way, too.”
As for finally settling things with David Haye, that showdown has gone for good in Fury’s mind. “Not Haye, no,” he stated. “He is nowhere near me. I only fight men. He will never get some money from me. He doesn’t deserve nothing.”