The great game of goading between heavyweights Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder began on Monday in a BT Sport studio in London with the two huge men separated by security guards at their first head-to-head press conference.
Pantomime or not – and no punches were thrown, in spite of Wilder shoving Fury – they were promoting their World Boxing Council heavyweight title fight which will take place on Dec 1 in Los Angeles.
The rivals will continue their press tour in New York on Tuesday, moving to Los Angeles on Wednesday, with former world champion Fury, undefeated in 27 fights, attempting to get into the head of the Alabaman, holder of the WBC crown, by suggesting that Wilder was actually “the challenger”.
After the pair had been together on ITV’s Good Morning Britain – during which Wilder spent more time criticising Anthony Joshua for avoiding him than intimating what he intended to do to Fury when they meet in the ring – Fury ignited the set-to by getting out of his seat and demanding the American join him for a “body spar”.
“I am no challenger for no man. I’m the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, the best of the best,” said Fury, who held the World Boxing Organisation, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association titles by defeating Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf in November 2015, before being exiled from the sport for 30 months. “This is two champions colliding, equal rights, rephrase and start again,” Fury had said after the pair were introduced.