British heavyweight contenders David Haye and Tyson Fury found themselves at odds inside a couple of minutes at a media conference in central London, England, to announce full details of their forthcoming non-title grudge showdown.
Haye, No. 3 in THE RING’s heavyweight ratings, and Fury, the magazine’s No. 8-rated contender, are to face each other in a highly-anticipated clash at the Manchester Arena on Sept. 28. The domestic bout is certain to be a 21,000 sell-out and will be shown in the UK on Sky Box Office’s pay-per-view service.
Those are the facts, which have been public knowledge for some time due to the constant leaking of stories by both camps during difficult, drawn-out contract negotiations. The rival Englishmen finally put pen to paper on the deal at the start of the week following numerous tit-for-tat verbal sparring on Twitter.
So, in that respect, it was good to finally see them in the same room Thursday lunchtime and actually talking face-to-face rather than in tweets. And, unsurprisingly, Haye and Fury were immediately in dispute over who is the bigger name in the boxing world right now and, therefore, who is giving the other their big chance.
Former WBA titleholder Haye kicked off proceedings in a relatively calm and measured way, suggesting that eliminating the fast-rising undefeated Fury (21-0, 15 knockouts) was simply the next logical step in his pursuit of a crack at one of the all-conquering Klitschko brothers, preferably Vitali.
“‘I think he deserves a shot. He has a string of wins, a good ranking. My aim is to regain the title and this will help me get here,” said the 32-year-old south Londoner. “I am getting back in the ring with a big strong lad and it will bring the best out of me. I am the seasoned veteran in this situation, which is new to me. I am against a young hungry lion.
“He says he is the best ever, which is a bold statement based on his last performances. I am happy to give him his opportunity and a nice big payday. I think it will be his last fight at this level.”
Of course, Fury, 25, was having none of that and, as soon as Haye had completed his take on the situation, struck back by claiming the complete reverse.
“Let’s not get things confused here,” said the Manchester-born man. “You’re the dog and I’m chucking you a bone. Before the Tyson Fury fight where were you going to go? Who were you going to fight? Nobody. I’m giving you a chance. I’m the young up-and-comer, the one on everyone’s tongue. You’re the one that stinks the place out and blames it on their toe.
“Then you fight him, (Dereck) Chisora, who I beat him when he was a virgin. When you beat him he was a journeyman. So it’s me giving David Haye the bone, not the other way around. He has a lot to say, people like to hear what David Haye’s got to say.
“After the fight with me, he’ll have a lot to say, and a lot of people can laugh at him.”
Fury, who got off the floor to stop American Steve Cunningham in his last outing back in May, later came under a more sustained attack from Haye during a separate interview on Sky Sports in which he explained further his reasons for taking the fight – believed to be worth at least $5 million to each boxer.
“It doesn’t look like the Klitschkos are willing to come to the table any time soon, so instead of sitting around I thought why not get in the ring, go through training camp and keep myself ticking over,” said Haye (26-2, 24 KOs), who has not fought in more than a year, since stopping countryman Chisora in the 5th round at West Ham football club. “It’s a ‘marking time’ fight to keep me active, keep the fans happy.
“He’s (Fury) really delusional and everybody wants to see this guy get knocked spark out. Who better to do that than myself? He says crazy things, but credit to him he’s 21-0 and a big guy. He’s 6-foot-9 and I’m 6-3 — so it’s going to be entertainingÔÇªwhile he’s able to stand up. I’m looking to take him out pretty quick. I’m been in the ring with bigger guys before. I’m looking forward to the build-up.”
On the evidence of round one in the official pre-fight war of words, everyone else should be too.
Photo / Shaun Botterill-Getty Images
You can follow Harry Pratt on Twitter: @gharrypratt