Tuesday, June 06, 2023  |



Tyson Fury: ‘I don’t value Klitschko in the slightest’

Fighters Network
Tyson Fury (R) alongside Wladimir Klitschko during the press tour. Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Bongarts-Getty Images

Tyson Fury (R) alongside Wladimir Klitschko during the press tour. Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Bongarts-Getty Images

Speaking with fighters is a great way to spend some time. Whether it’s a prospect, a contender, or a champion, more often than not, you will come away enlightened or entertained. However, when you converse with Tyson Fury, who faces THE RING heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, this Saturday in Dusseldorf, Germany, you feel as though someone has trapped you inside a box and set off a firework.

The enigmatic 27-year-old from Manchester, England, is not everyone’s cup of tea and is frequently derided as some sort of fistic circus act. However, for the uninitiated, it’s worth having a closer inspection. Fury, rated No. 3 by THE RING, is undefeated at 24-0 (18 knockouts) and swept full domestic honors, claiming British, Commonwealth and European titles en route to becoming the WBO mandatory challenger.

If you find his conduct despicable, then he probably isn’t too concerned because that combustible mix of what many perceive to be bombast and a perfect resume has led to heavyweight title purses for non-title bouts. No active fighter knows how to play the game better than Fury but, this weekend, he faces the ultimate acid test against a seasoned champion who has been king of the glamour division for what seems like an eternity.

So, is Fury concerned about Klitschko’s rocket left jab and that concussive right hand? Judge for yourself.

“I’ve said before: All you need to do is headbutt the jab and break his left hand,” revealed Fury, who had this reporter in fits of laughter within seconds. “You must have heard of old fighters using this? I’m telling you, when he puts power on the jab and hits me on top of the head, it’s a matter of time before he breaks his hand. And once his left is out of the equation, it’s game over.

“I’m 6-foot-9 and I don’t need to worry about his jab or getting inside. I’m taller than he is, with a four-inch reach advantage and I can box better than he can. I’ve got more ability in my toes than Klitschko has in his full body. He’s never fought anyone with my size or skillset and he’ll get hit more in the first two rounds than he has in the last 10 years of his career.”


Fury cracks Dereck Chisora. Photo: Getty Images

Humble stuff from the typically modest Fury. The debate currently in progress is if the challenger truly believes what he’s saying or is he whistling in the dark? The interview was less than halfway complete when this reporter decided it was the former. Regardless of how you judge him, Tyson Fury is a real fighting man who comes from a family of real fighting men. As a rule, he doesn’t back down to anybody.

It would have been easy to switch career trajectory and chase down American Deontay Wilder for the WBC belt but Fury has his heart set on punch-swapping with Klitschko. Granted, there’s more money on the table for this fight but one is left with the impression that the British heavyweight colossus is absolutely certain of victory and his self-confidence stems from a unique mindset.

“Unlike every opponent he’s ever faced, I’m not afraid of him,” said Fury in earnest. “I don’t value Klitschko in the slightest and I don’t value that big reputation. He’s had his time; he’s 39 years old and he’s getting stopped. I’m not going over to Germany to win on points because that’s not going to happen. I’m going over there to knock him spark out.

“You don’t talk like this if you can’t back it up, so there must be a reason for my confidence. Do you think after everything I’ve said and done that I would go over there and lie down after one round? I know how to beat Klitschko. He has to have his heart ripped out; you have to break him down physically and mentally before he’ll lose a fight. Mentally, he’s already 50 percent gone, so I’m halfway there.”

Klitschko, who also holds the IBF, WBA and WBO titles, is generally regarded as one of the most exceptional athletes in the sport. As the saying goes, this is not his first rodeo but when this reporter pursued the challenger on why he feels the cerebral Ukrainian is mentally weakened, his response was interesting to say the least.

Fury said, “I can tell that I’ve gotten to Klitschko. He’s not acting himself in press conferences and was lying about stuff that we both know is true. When Emanuel Steward was alive – God bless his soul – he told Wladimir that Tyson Fury was the heir to his crown. That’s in the back of Klitschko’s mind because he was useless before Emanuel took him on and everything he has is thanks to him.

“We even asked for the fight to be in Germany. It’s a much bigger win over there because the odds are completely stacked against me. But you’re going to see me rise to the occasion and it’s going to be the night of a lifetime. This is the biggest fight that I can have in my career and nothing will ever equal it. It’s actually the biggest fight in the division for years and I take my hat off to Wladimir because I always said he would avoid me.”

Okay, so we’re sold on the self-belief. What about the physical side of this mission? Any fight fan with a modicum of knowledge knows the strategy Klitschko adopts. Stay outside, use the jab to set up the straight right and keep the pace steady. If the action threatens to get too frenetic, then the champion ties up his prey in order to defuse the attack and then he starts all over again. Fury, who has already dismissed the jab, is only interested in what he’ll be doing.

He said, “Klitschko will see me southpaw, orthodox, inside and outside. He’ll get so many things that he’s never seen before, it’s going to be unbelievable. Why do you think I’m so confident when this man hasn’t been beaten in 10 years? Klitschko was a world champion before I even started boxing. I stand to look like a fool if I don’t back up what I’ve been saying, right?

The Klitschko jab finds Brian Jennings. Photo: Getty Images

The Klitschko jab. Photo: Getty Images

“This guy is so accustomed to winning everything with that jab and stepping back. What happens when he can’t do that because he’s out of range? When he can’t hit the target with the left, he won’t have the confidence to release the right. Then what? He’s an Emanuel Steward fighter and I know how he thinks. Klitschko likes to touch his man with the jab and follow with the right but if he can’t land the left, there is no right.”

Fury continued, “What else is there? That big lead left hook that worked against Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin. Klitschko bounces back and forth, dips his knees and sets himself before he lets it go. He always sets himself and then hits fighters on top of the head with the big power shots. I’ve seen everything he has and I know what he’s going to do before he does it.”

Much like loquacious American promoter Don King, Fury refused to use one word when 100 will do. When asked for his final prediction on how things will play out within the confines of the ESPRIT Arena, a state-of-the-art soccer stadium which holds upwards of 50,000 fans, the challenger unloaded a typically withering verbal volley.

“I’ll meet him head on with my own jab,” said Fury. “That’s the key to all the doors. You can’t open a locked door without a key and you can’t set up combinations without a jab. You’ll see something very different in this fight. If I’m at the top of my game, then this will actually be easy. I will make him look like an absolute novice and people will barely be able to believe what they’re seeing.

“Just wait for the words ‘and new’ because that is the history making statement. I’ve been waiting for this fight for four or five years and he couldn’t avoid me forever. This is my time to shine. I’ve ate, slept and breathed boxing and I’ll say this: If he can beat me on the night, then I would never, at any point in my career, have been good enough for him. I’m telling you; if I don’t get him out very early, like in one or two rounds, then he’ll be gone by six, seven or eight.”

Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.