When Boxing Monthly caught up with Tyson Fury (24-0, 18 KOs) on a hot summer day in Bolton, the 27-year-old greeted this writer with a stern look and said: “You’d better ask some interesting questions, I had to drive for over an hour to get here.”
Fury takes on Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 53 early) at Dussedorf’s Esprit Arena on 24 October. The former British, Commonwealth and European titlist has had enough of the usual “How is training going?” questions to last him a lifetime, so BM decided to ask him about matters outside the ring.
For example, his relationship with long-time promoter Mick Hennessy has remained intact from his first pro fight all the way through to his biggest bout, despite Hennessy suffering a few blows during that period. The promoter has seen fighters and TV contracts come and go yet always hustles up a TV deal or a new signing, Fury admires and respects this ability.
“When Mick was flying high he had [Carl] Froch, [Darren] Barker, John Murray and everybody else, then they all left him when he hit hard times,” he said. “If I hit hard times and everybody leaves me, well it’s not nice is it? Sometimes loyalty comes before business.
“I’ve stuck with Mick through thick and thin, and I’ve come out the other side very, very rewarded. Mick works hard at his job. He does the best he can do, which is all any of us can ever do. He stuck by me, so I stuck by him. Mick took a gamble on me, I’m returning the favour.
“I’ve had more terrestrial TV exposure than any other fighter in the country. I’ve been everywhere. I started on ITV4, I’ve been on Sky, Channel 5, Primetime, BoxNation, Eurosport and was supposed to be on Sky Box Office a few times [for two aborted fights with David Haye]. I’ve been on NBC in America, Showtime and every network there is.”
Klitschko came to London for a press conference yesterday. Fans and pundits alike expected something different from Fury. He didn’t disappoint, turning up dressed as a Batman before wrestling with someone who had donned a Joker outfit and threatening to get the fight underway early after the world champion called him a “clown”.
The 6' 9'' fighter told BM that he is giving the public, the press and Wlad exactly what they want, controversy and headlines - the two things that will ensure the event does good numbers on Sky Sports PPV.
“Wlad likes money, so he likes any fighter who is outspoken and sells tickets,” he opined. “It doesn’t matter if he’s American or British, he could be Indian for all he cares as long as he’s popular and has a following.”
Fury is from a travelling background. There are many travellers in and around boxing; however, they do not always make the transition from amateur to the pro ranks. He puts this down to lifestyle and working patterns as well as the demands of family life.
“A lot of travellers don’t make it past the Junior level because they get a driver’s licence at 17 then go out to work,” was Fury’s take on why so many walk away from the sport.
“Between the ages of 11 and 17, travellers are the best amateur boxers in the country, but then they get married at 18, have kids and have to earn money, so they can’t box every few months for 200 or 300 quid and expect to pay their bills.
“The ones who stick at it - me, Billy Joe Saunders, Andy Lee, Henry Wharton, the Hilton brothers from Canada - do well in the end. I was lucky; I’m a big, white heavyweight who was famous as an amateur anyway so I was on TV from my first fight as the centre of attention. I’ve had the hard route, someone has to lay the tracks for other guys to follow and they’re following me now.”
Still, next month’s fight with Klitschko seemed a long way off in 2013 when Haye twice pulled out of their proposed fight due to injury, leaving Fury angry, out-of-pocket and questioning his future.
“I couldn’t be bothered after the David Haye fight fell through,” he revealed. “It cost me most of the money I had saved, a whole year of my career and I felt like walking away, but it is my destiny to be the champion of the world so I stayed. I knew it would happen. I said he wouldn’t fight. I just knew that something so good couldn’t happen to me.”
A mercurial figure, Fury can give two different answers to the same question without pausing for breath, the quotes you get from him one day could be rendered irrelevant the next. He told BM that he will beat Klitschko, twice, take on WBC holder Deontay Wilder before meeting Anthony Joshua and then hand over the reins to Hughie Fury, his cousin, so that he can enjoy his retirement.
Earlier in our discussion, however, he had vowed to carry on fighting for years and made the same statement during yesterday’s press conference. He was equally contrary over the question of ring earnings, promising to spend every penny he makes in order to instill a work ethic in his children despite stating that he intends to secure his family's financial future earlier in our conversation.
“After boxing? I’m going to spend all the money that I’ve earned,” he said when asked what retirement will bring. “I’ll die in a pauper’s grave, leaving nothing behind. What’s the point of living, working and getting punched about the head to leave it to some kids who won’t appreciate it and will spunk it up the wall anyway?
“Every man has to bear their own cross in life, even Jesus had to carry his cross. No one helps you with your cross, so giving stuff to people is a bad idea. If people don’t earn stuff for themselves then they don’t really appreciate it. If someone gives you a tenner, it’s just a tenner - if you work for it then you appreciate it. I’m leaving nothing behind. Let them go and get an education, let them make their own way in life.”
Of course, if he spends too much too soon after hanging up the gloves he may have to make a comeback at some point to balance the books. BM asked Fury if he would be tempted to return if the well runs dry.
“There won’t be any need, I’ll be a multimillionaire,” he answered before ending the interview by asking: “Are we done? That was alright. Was that the most controversial interview ever?”
Decide for yourself by reading Fury’s full, frank and in-depth thoughts about boxing, Klitschko, travellers, and life and death in this month’s magazine. Boxing Monthly is available in stores from today, subscription and digitally on iTunes and Android.