Tuesday, September 26, 2023  |



Exclusive interview: Tyson Fury has arrived

Fighters Network
Photo by Sascha Steinbach / Bongarts

Photo by Sascha Steinbach / Bongarts

On the morning after the night before this reporter was continually asked how British heavyweight giant Tyson Fury had found a way to defeat Wladimir Klitschko by 12-round unanimous decision in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Were the scores wrong? Was Klitschko ill? Was it a fix so they can have a rematch? Every time a question was asked, I gave the same answer: Tyson Fury had promised to take his opponent’s left jab out of the fight and, in doing so, rendered the signature right hand of the Ukrainian champion useless.

There has been a cascade of drivel written about Fury’s performance, most of it from tabloid press in the U.K. who only cover the sport when a fight captures the attention of the mainstream. That was evident with every inept word printed and few touched on any of the positive things that Fury accomplished as a fighter on Saturday night.

“That’s just people who don’t know boxing,” said the new RING heavyweight champion. “Didn’t I break this fight down for you before it happened? Didn’t I tell you over the phone what I would do to Wladimir Klitschko?

“I told you that I would take his left jab away and he wouldn’t be able to cross the right hand. He even admitted that’s what happened at the post-fight press conference. He said he couldn’t hit me, or get the proper range and that’s because he couldn’t touch me with his jab. Without the jab; the right hand, left hook doesn’t work.”

As well as maintaining tactical superiority, the Englishman also put to bed the notion that he couldn’t absorb a direct hit. Right hand knockdowns by the undistinguished Nevan Pajkic and former IBF cruiserweight titleholder Steve Cunningham, suffered by Fury in 2011 and 2013 respectively, had many experts predicting a quick win for Klitschko.

“Wladimir is a good puncher but people who thought he could put me over easily were just being ridiculous,” argued Fury, who also annexed the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.

“The shots that have knocked me down have been swinging right hands from the back of the hall that landed flush on the face. Those kind of shots can put anybody down. Klitschko landed a big left hook to the temple and a straight right hand on the point of the chin – neither shot bothered me at all. The only man hurt in that fight was Wladimir.”

Fury’s historic victory has been met with derision by those who simply don’t like his fighting style or find that volcanic, off-the-wall, persona repulsive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but the message from the new champion is simple: If you don’t like it, don’t tune in. That type of Fury-flippancy is sure to irritate people further but he was extremely respectful to the fine champion whom he dethroned.

“I would be more than happy to have a rematch with Wlad,” said Fury, who improved to 25-0 (18 knockouts). “He’s been a great champion and he’s still a great champion and it would be my honor to give that man a rematch. Essentially I would be giving him a chance to win his money back – that type of thing.

“I’m not overly bothered about where it happens either, because our teams can sort that out. Whether it happens in England, or Germany again, wherever, I’m happy to go.”

Claiming the heavyweight Holy Grail is one massive reason to celebrate for the brash 27-year-old, but it does present a problem. What dragons are left to slay? Taking the Klitschko rematch out of the equation, there are massive fights out there with the likes of countryman Anthony Joshua and WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder but Fury is already oozing contentment.

“Obviously I would like to win the WBC title but nothing else can come near this victory,” he said. “Klitschko was the reigning champion for a decade and regarded by many as one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. I’m never going to face another opponent with that legacy. Wladimir had built his reputation from the ground up and I’ve taken it away from him.

“I’ve done almost everything and the big Las Vegas show doesn’t interest me either. I wanted a fight at Madison Square Garden and I’ve done that, so the only other places I would like to fight are Old Trafford (Manchester United soccer stadium) and Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland (80,000-seat arena).”

The new champion acknowledges that he has many sides and despite being vilified by the press for more than one distasteful rant, he refuses to change. Youthful bluster? Marketing strategy? A combination of both? One thing is irrefutable: The man has a serious side and a deep religious faith.

Fury, holding back real emotion, said, “Everything I’ve set out to do, I’ve achieved and all the praise goes to God. Without God I would never have made it to this point. God is so giving and so loving. When my little son, Prince, had health issues as a baby we were told that he had a 20 percent chance of survival. God gave my son back to me and now he’s strong and healthy.

“Recently my wife, Paris, and I had trouble having kids and we were considering IVF treatment. I prayed to the Lord about it and now we’re going to have another child. I prayed in the lead-up to this fight and, despite everyone writing me off, I’ve been given the victory. Everything is possible through God and I’m living proof of that.”

Love him or hate him, Tyson Fury is impossible to ignore.

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