Sports Features

Face to face with Fury

2 Mins read

Tyson Fury. He likes to act the madman at press conferences and weigh-ins. He sings in the ring when he wins (and he always wins). And he might just be Britain’s next world heavyweight champion.

Tyson Fury with Artefact's Ayaz Sumra

Tyson Fury with Artefact’s Ayaz Sumra

His antics ahead of fights, which include turning over tables, walkouts and world-class foul-mouthed trash talking, have earned him notoriety and a reputation for perhaps being slightly unhinged. But what is Fury really like up close and personal?

For starters, he’s big. And I mean BIG. The 6ft 9in fighter from an Irish gypsy background in Wythenshawe, Manchester, who is unbeaten in 24 fights, is both tall and built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

Throw in his menacing stare and a hint of volcanic temper waiting to erupt at any moment, and he’s a truly intimidating presence.

I had a brief encounter with the 26-year-old at the weigh-in for his recent fight against Christian Hammer, having plucked up the courage to ask him for a quick chat.

All I got was a quick photo, and quick quote: “Hurry up, take a selfie, I haven’t got all day.” And that was that. I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him about it. Would you? Thought not.

But Fury wasn’t at the weigh-in to talk to me – he was there to sell tickets for the O2 and BoxNation TV subscriptions for his bill-topping fight, promoted by Frank Warren. In boxing’s time-honoured fashion, he did this by winding up his opponent.

But before going face to face with Hammer, Fury took to the scales and flexed his muscles for the assembled photographers, front and back.

He then homed in on Hammer’s baseball cap, flicking its peak, moving it about and generally trying to irritate the Romanian and provoke the kind of reaction that puts bums on seats and gets fight fans tuning in.

Speed and power

However, Hammer, 27, who had 17 wins and three losses ahead of his meeting with Fury, refused to rise to his much taller opponent’s bait and let his provocation ride.

Fury then went onto tiptoes, emphasising to the media that he is much bigger than his foe.

He then pushed his opponent away before security stepped in to separate the pair, and started abusing him, saying: “ You’re going to sleep, sleepy, sleepy. Lifting weights doesn’t mean you can fight, does it. Boom, your getting knocked out! Romanian bum, Romanian bum.”

It wasn’t exactly Oscar Wilde, but if he was trying to get inside his opponent’s head and sow a seed or two of doubt, perhaps it worked.

On the night, Fury dominated the fight with his superior power and speed, stopping Hammer in the eighth round to retain the WBO international belt and move a step closer to challenging for an actual world title.

The four meaningful versions of the world heavyweight crown are currently held by Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko (WBA, IBF and WBO) and American Deontay Wilder (WBC). Fury reckons he has the beating of them both.

After nailing Hammer at the O2, he was soon calling out Klitschko, taking the microphone to chant his name from the ring as he issued his latest challenge.

It’s obvious that Fury thrives in the big-fight limelight and ultimately deserves his shot at a world title. But what’s not so clear is exactly how crazy he really is – if at all.

Perhaps the media focus too much on his wild side – his expletive-laden trash talking, his table flipping and walkouts, the pushing and shoving and calling people bums – and not enough on his qualities as a fighter.

Having seen him in the flesh, I think his antics are more about comedy than craziness. There’s method in Fury’s ‘madness’.