Tyson Fury Q&A: Why Joshua showdown is realistic, why Usyk has no chance
“The best belt in world boxing has to be won three times to equal Muhammad Ali’s record. I haven’t done anything bad. I’m just very confident in smashing a middleweight to pieces.”
This was Tyson Fury’s response when I gently chastised him for “dumping the best title in world boxing.”
Did The Ring really believe that Fury would never return?
Don’t be silly!
There were three reason why “The Gypsy King” had us on the hook. First, as our rules state, if a champion officially retires, the title is declared vacant. Second, The Ring’s No. 1 and No. 2 heavyweight contenders, Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, were set to fight. Third, Fury is unpredictable. The reigning WBC titleholder could have returned in two years or one week. As it turned out, it was the latter.
On August 20, southpaw wizard Usyk scored a repeat points triumph over Joshua at the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia. With Fury having relinquished his crown, Usyk made history by adding The Ring’s heavyweight title to the cruiserweight version he picked up in July 2018. However, around the time the Ukrainian star was having his gloves removed, Fury was already throwing down the gauntlet.
“I would annihilate both of them on the same night… fucking shit,” was the cry from Twitterland. “Get your fucking chequebook out because the Gypsy King is here to stay forever.”
The colossal switch-hitter from Manchester is now targeting undisputed honors and a third Ring championship. Was it sneaky? Yes, it bloody well was, but if the possibility of Fury winning yet another Ring belt leads to the first undisputed heavyweight champion since 1999 (Lennox Lewis), then that’s a small price to pay, right?
On Tuesday, The Ring caught up with Fury to discuss a variety of things. We had a back and forth on his recent horseplay; Usyk’s ears would most definitely have been burning; and Fury also addressed calling out Joshua within the last 24 hours.
Stand back – the touchpaper is now lit:
Tyson Fury: “I’ve won The Ring heavyweight title twice. Who else do I stand beside?”
The Ring: Floyd Patterson and Muhammad Ali. Ali won it three times.
TF: “OK, one two-timer and one-three timer. That’s what I’m chasing. I’m on a quest for greatness, not fucking mediocre.”
The Ring: I called you a week prior to Usyk-Joshua 2. This is one of the quotes you gave me: “[Boxing] was fun while it lasted. I had a good 14-year career. I actually boxed for 20 years, from 14 to 34 years old. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed the ups and the downs. My career was an Indian summer that just kept giving.” Retirement speak. What changed?
TF: “I got bored with retirement. I had five months out the ring and I changed my mind. Nobody believed me anyway, did they? I would still have passed a lie detector test, though, for sure.
“I vacated The Ring title and I’ll now become a three-time Ring champion.”
The Ring: Muhammad Ali is the only heavyweight to win three Ring Magazine championships titles. Does matching Ali’s record motivate you?
TF: “I’m here to do well. I’m not here to be mediocre. Ali stands on his own with those three Ring Magazine belts and I’ll equal that when I get the middleweight (Usyk) in the ring.”
The Ring: Let me test your boxing knowledge. Ali won three Ring championships. Who did he beat to win them?
TF: “Who did he win them off? Emmm, was The Ring title on the line when he boxed Sonny Liston?”
The Ring: Yes, that’s the first one.
TF: “He retired for a while, then he came back. Joe Frazier! No. I know Leon Spinks was one of them!”
The Ring: Yes, that’s the third one. Who’s in the middle?
TF: “It’s got to be George Foreman.”
The Ring: Very good! You obviously watched Usyk-Joshua 2. The consensus is that it was a bit closer, but Usyk was a clear winner. Why does Usyk give Joshua so many problems?
TF: “He’s a smaller guy, more agile and he’s a southpaw.
“Any of these big lumbering heavyweights with slow feet will struggle with Usyk’s style. I don’t think Joshua could do any better. He tried his best and that’s it. There’s no shame in losing to a better man on the night. That’s what’s happened. Usyk is just an all-round better man than Joshua. That’s it – end of. If they fought five times, Joshua might win one on a lucky punch. But the law of averages says the smaller, better boxer beats Joshua every single time.”
The Ring: After preparing for Joshua for several months, Usyk wants to spend time with his family. I know you jumped on him for not wanting to fight before the end of the year, but, deep down, given the circumstances in his native country, are you a bit more sympathetic than you’re letting on?
TF: “I’m not because this was a typical shithouse move. Where I come from, you don’t call a man out unless you’re willing to fight him.
“He said he’s been in the gym for six months. I’ve been in boxing my whole life, studied it forever, and I’ve never seen anyone do a six-month training camp. No wonder he’s injured if he’s doing six-month training camps. Do you know how long I’m gonna train for Joshua if that fight comes off? Five weeks. Get in there, knock him out, then on to the next one.”
The Ring: On Monday you offered Joshua a fight for the WBC and lineal titles. Realistically, that’s not going to happen is it?
TF: “Why’s it not gonna happen?”
The Ring: Well, Joshua has lost three of the last five and would be a huge underdog. So there’s the strong possibility that he loses four of his last six, which some would say is career-ending. Also, Joshua has signed this multi-fight deal with DAZN and they’ll want to realize their investment.
TF: “He would be a massive underdog, so he’s in a win-win situation. If everyone expects him to lose and he beats me, then he’s back on top and bigger than ever.
“And if he’s lost three, what difference does it make if he loses four? Four losses means nothing. Look at Derek Chisora, he’s had 12 losses and he’s still battling away.
“And in terms of DAZN, the fight can be on BT pay-per-view and DAZN pay-per-view.”
The Ring: Joshua is coming off two losses and he’s got no belts. What’s the split going to be on this fight?
TF: “I know what you’re saying, but I would ask for nothing more than champion-challenger privilege.”
The Ring: Give me an example. 75-25?
TF: “No, listen, I want to make the fight. I’d offer him 60-40 for champion-challenger. I think that’s more than fair.”
The Ring: I agree.
TF: “Listen, I’m not going to offer 75-25 like they’d do to me. If the shoe was on the other foot, they would say, ‘Well, we’ll give you 20 percent.’ But because I want this fight to happen, I’m willing to give him 40 percent. And if I took this fight to the WBC, they’d probably say 70-30 in my favor.
“He doesn’t have anything and he’s coming off two losses, but I see the value in Joshua. Even though he’s lost to Usyk, I still think me and AJ in England is bigger than me and Usyk.
“It’s 60-40 – there’s the deal. Do it or don’t do it.”
The Ring: Why is Tyson Fury all wrong for Usyk? What would you do that Joshua couldn’t do?
TF: “Tyson Fury does what Usyk does, but I’m a bigger, better version of him with knockout power.
“Usyk thinks he’s a slick little motherfucker at [220 pounds] and he can box and move. I’ve been boxing and moving my whole career, but now I just like to knock motherfuckers out.
“I’ve never met anyone with more speed than me, sparring or fighting. Usyk is a heavyweight at [220 pounds], but he’s not faster than me. The fact that he’s been a middleweight means he brings up speed. But a middleweight carrying an extra [50 or 60 pounds] won’t help their speed.”
The Ring: Do you detect a drop in his quickness?
TF: “Absolutely. If a man is [200 pounds] and moves to [220 pounds], he’s carrying more muscle and slows down.
“Why is Tyson Fury gonna beat him? Because Tyson Fury is a 6-foot-9, 270-pound wrecking machine who will not stop throwing combinations at a man that can’t hurt him.
“Joshua is known to have a dodgy chin. [Usyk] didn’t even look like wobbling Joshua in that second fight, and Joshua walked on to everything he threw.”
The Ring: Joshua didn’t seem to be as vulnerable to Usyk’s punch as he was in fight one.
TF: “That’s because Joshua just kept his hands up and kept walking forward.
“Listen, we have seen Derek Chisora – a torn up, washed up journeyman – give Usyk all the problems he could handle. Derek is a glorified journeyman with 12 losses, and most of those losses came in a row. He was nip and tuck with Usyk. Seven rounds to five. Usyk was two rounds up on an old journeyman? Please! Also, Mairis Briedis, a man at 5-foot-10 and [200 pounds], almost beat Usyk with an aggressive style. Michael Hunter couldn’t miss Usyk for the first few rounds until he ran out of steam.
“It’s not like he’s a slick southpaw. Look at the face on him after his fights.”
The Ring: You came down a little bit in weight for the Dillian Whyte fight – 264 pounds as opposed to 277 for the third Wilder fight. What do you do for Usyk? Stay a bit lower to maintain the agility or pile on the weight to make the size advantage bigger?
TF: “I’d just stay at whatever weight I’m at in the gym, 265 pounds or something like that.
“I only weighed 277 pounds for Deontay Wilder because I had four weeks training. It was a very tough camp for me. I was on the scales at [300 pounds] when I started four weeks before, so to get down to [277 pounds] was a good drop.
“But with Usyk, he hasn’t got faster feet than me at heavyweight. He may have had at middleweight or light heavyweight but not at heavyweight. I’ve got more power, double his reach, I’m a foot taller, and I’ve got more heart. Why do I have more heart? Heart is getting up off the floor and battling on in the 12th round after being knocked unconscious. Heart is getting up up twice in Round 4 to bounce a motherfucker off the canvas in Round 11. That’s what you call fighting heart.
“I’ll do to the little European what Riddick Bowe did to Evander Holyfield in the first and third fights. A good big man will batter a good little man. He is a good little man, but he’s not a good big man. He’s had four fights at heavyweight: two against the bodybuilder (Joshua), who he could outbox 10 times a week; Chisora, the journeyman; and Chaz Witherspoon, where he was out of ideas. And Chaz was landing on him, marking him up and everything.”
The Ring: How does Usyk match up against Wilder?
TF: “I think Usyk would be awkward for Wilder for the first three or four rounds but Usyk slows down. We’ve seen him slow down. We’ve seen Joshua land on him and hurt him. Wilder would land one punch on him and it would be over by the fifth round. Maybe Usyk can outbox him for up to 10 rounds, but in a 12-round fight you’re gonna get hit. I don’t care if you’re the slickest man alive. As soon as Wilder lands on any of them, goodbye forever.”
The Ring: Did you happen to see Andy Ruiz vs. Luis Ortiz?
TF: “I seen highlights. It looked like a pretty good fight.”
The Ring: There’s talk of Ruiz fighting Wilder providing Deontay beats Robert Helenius. What do you make of Wilder against Ruiz?
TF: “Well, considering the fact that I don’t like Wilder and I do like Andy, I’d wholeheartedly want Andy Ruiz to batter him. However, Wilder is a dangerous man and I don’t think Ruiz is slick enough to avoid a punch for 12 rounds. Andy was being hit clean by the 40-whatever-year old (Ortiz).
“Wilder is always going to land on all these heavyweights, especially the heavy ones, just like he did Ortiz and all the rest. It took Joshua seven rounds to break down Dominic Breazeale. Wilder? It took him one punch.
“I would back Wilder to beat Anthony Joshua. I back him to beat any of them except me. Deontay Wilder, even though he’s a piece of shit in my opinion, is still the second-best heavyweight in the world. He’ll land the thunder punch. He landed it on me. We had 10 knockdowns in three fights.
“The Gypsy King rules this heavyweight division. Everyone does what I say and I’ve earned that right. I’ve stayed undefeated for 14 years. I’ve took on the hardest fucking challenges possible. I’ve took out one of the longest reigning champions in history (Wladimir Klitschko) and the biggest puncher in history (Wilder). All I’ve got to do is set about this middleweight. And do you know what they’re gonna say when I win? ‘Oh, he was too small, he was never gonna beat Fury!’ They’re already saying it.”
The Ring: Is that frustrating? Is this why you’ve considered retirement so many times?
TF: “This is what I’m saying.
“But I was sitting at home for five months, doing talk shows and a bit of filming. It was great! But nothing will ever compare with being heavyweight champion of the world and having a bit of banter with the lads. And when I say the lads, I mean everyone else in boxing.
“I love boxing. I absolutely adore it.”
The Ring: So will you be around for the foreseeable future? You’re 34 years old now.
TF: “I’ve still got loads of time to do whatever I want. I’ll probably become the ‘New Mongoose’ (in tribute to the ‘Old Mongoose’, Archie Moore) and keep boxing at 50 years old (laughs).
The Ring: How is Joe Parker looking ahead of the Joe Joyce fight?
TF: Joe Parker is looking unbelievable. He’s looking very well. He’s looking as lean as a bean, but he’s actually really heavy. He’s about 250 pounds.
“This fight will come down to heart, determination, and who wants to pull it out of the bag more.
“Joe Parker has got six or seven years on the man. He’s got speed, he’s got boxing ability, and he’s been in bigger fights. However, Joe Joyce is a big, strong, tough man and he’ll give anyone a good fight. In fact, there’s only one man that Joe Joyce does not compete against.”
The Ring: You?
TF: “Nope, not me. Joe Joyce could compete against me but I’d box the face right off him and stop him.
“The one man he can’t even compete against is Wilder. Wilder would absolutely poleaxe him. He wouldn’t be able to miss him, would he? And Wilder is back down to [210 pounds], so he’s back to his most dangerous – skinny as a whippet.”
The Ring: There’s a lot of people who are very happy that you’re not retiring. Have you got a message for them?
TF: “Yes I do. I was away for a minute, but now I’m back. I missed the roar of the crowd and I missed everything about boxing.
“I cannot wait to put on a show during these difficult times. For everyone that’s struggling – crisis times and rising energy bills – I want to give everyone hope and another massive event that they can attend. They can have some fun and forget about everything else that’s going on in the world. A Tyson Fury fight is bigger than boxing – it’s entertainment and fun for the public.”
Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing