Tyson Fury resumed his mind games on Staurday, declaring himself better known in the United States than Alabaman Deontay Wilder, with whom he contests the World Boxing Council crown in Los Angeles on Dec 1.
Fury, the challenger, told The Telegraph: “I was in camp and a guy came over and said the Wladimir Klitschko fight was a great fight, and asked me what I was doing over here… I said I was training to fight Deontay Wilder. He said ‘Who’s that guy?’ I told him he was the American world heavyweight champion. He didn’t know him.
“Deontay Wilder, who? I believe Deontay’s thinking he needs to defeat me to give himself some gratification. And what better time to do it when he thinks I’m at my lowest?”
Fury, at his training camp in the Hollywood Hills, went on: “If I didn’t think I could defeat Deontay Wilder, I wouldn’t be here. I live in a nice house, I’ve got a beautiful family, but if we had to move out of that house into a trailer and have nothing, I would prefer to do that than to go into this fight just for money knowing I can’t win.”
Fury is enjoying the limelight in Los Angeles, where the media and the fans have taken to him.
“I think Americans love the comeback story and my story has captured the imagination of the public because it’s almost like a fairy-tale story. I went from rags to riches, back to rags. I suffered with depression, contemplated suicide, lost everything I ever had and worked hard for. To then turn my life around again and get back to the pinnacle of the sport within a year, it’s a compelling story.”
The heavyweight division certainly has much to thank Fury for. He was the man who scattered the belts from the long-held grasp of Klitschko, a decade of ennui in which American sports fans lost interest in boxing’s blue riband division. In Fury’s absence from the sport, compatriot Anthony Joshua has lapped up three of the belts, though he is progressing fast. Perhaps even more profound, is that Fury has also taken the biggest challenge very quickly, undermining the on-off Wilder-Joshua negotiation saga, though time will tell on the wisdom of the move when the first bell tolls at LA’s Staples Center.
But it was no ‘act’ on the media tour with Wilder, revealed Fury, as the pair indulged in three days of goading and almost came to blows in London, New York and Los Angeles.“It wasn’t an act with Wilder. I think we were both trying to do our best to do what we could to each other. There was times there when I thought we were going to have a fight. People say it was acting or whatever, but when two unbeaten champions are face to face, both with a point to prove, calling each other names, you only need one shove too many and it’s off. We’re fighters. It was heated for the three days and I was exhausted afterwards. I’m sure Deontay will say the same. It wasn’t that I was sick of the sight of him, it was that I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was doing hundreds of interviews and going from one place to the other.”
Fury’s take on Wilder, who clearly respects the Briton’s decision to challenge now, does not go beyond pugilistic values. “I respect him as a fighter and a man, of course I do. I don’t need to dislike him, or anybody. It’s my job, it’s what I get paid to do. He does seem to be an angry man, though, doesn’t he? But he’s got a point to prove. To everybody’s eyes, Tyson Fury is the lineal champion and Deontay Wilder is a belt holder. He wants what I had — to be considered the best.”
“They think if there was ever a time to beat me, now is the time to do it,” reasons Fury. “They can’t let me get rolling again with four or five fights because then there’s no chance of beating me. They’re banking on me not being the same fighter I was. And I’m not the same, I’m better. Better now than I was when I fought Klitschko. I’ve got more experience, I move better, I’m stronger and wiser.”