It isnít just a 6ft 9in, 18 stone frame that distinguishes Tyson Fury as potentially the biggest superstar in British sport.
After 21 consecutive pro wins, the trigger tongued traveller is on the cusp of challenging for the world heavyweight title and donít expect the build-up to slip beneath the radar.
Everybody, it seems, harbours an opinion on Furyís fighting talent and kamikaze mindset Ė and not all of them are favourable Ė but Tyson continues to grow bolder with each passing victory.
After a frustrating 2013 in which he aired just once and was twice left stranded at the altar by David Haye, the 25 year old foghorn has penned a three fight promotional deal with Frank Warren which should culminate in a summer blockbuster with European champion and former victim Dereck Chisora.
Dormant for 10 months, Fury seeks to shed some rust in an international 10 rounder with American banger Joey Abell at The Copper Box a week on Saturday and his disciples and detractors will be equally eager to see how he fares. Few are ambivalent when it comes to Tyson Fury.
Remaining tickets for Rock The Box III, priced from £40 are available from Eventim on 0844 29 1000 or online at www.eventim.co.uk
Watch live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).† Join at www.boxnation.com
The big fella certainly hadnít lost his tongue when boxing writer Glynn Evans called to discuss recent developments last Sunday morning!
Last time out, in your IBF eliminator against Steve Cunningham, you were dropped early by a fighter almost three stone lighter than you yet roared back to win by the most spectacular of knockouts in round seven. Do you feel the Cunningham fight enhanced or harmed your image?
I couldnít care a damn. All I know is that it moved me forward. Iím not bothered how many times I get turned upside down as long as, at the end of the fight, itís my hand that gets raised and I move closer to my goal.
Everything about the Cunningham fight, from fighting at Madison Square Garden in New York, to the build up, to the knockdown, to the brutal finish, was great experience for me which Iíll bank for later on.
I had a fantastic response from the US media and fans. The Yanks love a fighter who can talk, whoís a showman and I can certainly do all that. They even seemed to love the singing though I doubt Iíll be making that a regular occurrence. I only know three songs. Iíve already exhausted my repertoire.
I really enjoyed the excitement. It was certainly one of the best fights of my career.
The Cunningham fight, an official eliminator for the IBF title, was supposed to pave the way for a final eliminator against Bulgarian beast Kubrat Pulev. However, your decision to pursue the megafight with David Haye instead cost you your IBF ranking and a guaranteed pathway to a contest with world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. That must be something you regret.
No, not really. I was going to get paid £5 million to fight in a huge packed arena on pay-per-view in my home country as opposed to collecting a measly one hundred grand to fight Pulev over in Germany.
It was a no brainer. Iím a prizefighter and money is the prize that drives me. Rankings and titles donít put food in my cupboards and Iíve a wife and two children to support.
If you donít risk, then you donít achieve. Unfortunately, due to David Haye, the gamble didnít pay off this time.
Though youíve been inactive from the ring since the fight with Cunningham last April, youíve endured two world class camps for the brace of scheduled fights with Haye. Though those fights never materialised, in what ways did the preparation develop you as a fighter?
I didnít need to develop. I donít put a high emphasis on boxing ability even though some say that Iíve got plenty.
What you need to succeed as a world class fighter is toughness, being game, having plenty of heart and balls. Technical ability donít really come into it, in my opinion.
All the others will lose cos theyíre s***. All I want to do is go in and have a fight, have a war, and may the best man win. Iíve fought good men yet Iím still undefeated in 21 fights. Clearly, that philosophy seems to work for me.
There appears to have been a significant improvement in both your physical condition and your attitude since you began working with your Uncle Peter two years ago. What are his qualities?
Itís about having respect and honour. My uncle is very straight forward and very strict which is exactly what you need when youíre preparing for fights at world level. Heís also on the job 24/7 and makes sure that we are too.
At 25, youíve finally developed the discipline to graft in camp but the Cunningham fight suggested youíve still to acquire the maturity to stick with a game plan in the heat of battle. Youíve the size and technical skills to dominate pretty easily at that level yet seem to need the thrill of going to war.
Surely thatís something youíll need to address now that the stakes are being raised?
No! I do whatever I can to win the fight. Yes, I can box when I need to but Iím never going to stick to whatever game plan we may have set in camp if it means that Iím going to lose the fight on points by following that game plan.
Youíve got to be able to adapt and every fight I enter with 25 game plans. If the technical stuff isnít working for me, then Iíll just stick it on you and attempt to punch your brains out!
Pure rucking seems to work for me. Unlike all the other bums in the division, I can take whatever punishment comes my way. Okay, I might go down, I might wobble, I might get cut but Iíve shown that Iíve got the heart, the balls, the will, the resilience, to recover and win the fight. Again, unlike the others, I donít care about getting hit. Itís a prizefight and thatís my forte. Ultimately, Iím far to game and brave for any of them.
Your activity on the social media sites has courted its share of controversy and strongly divided fan opinion about you. Retrospectively, do you regret any of the tweets? Is it important to you to be loved by the fans?
No regrets whatsoever. I couldnít give a s***. As long as fans buy tickets to see me fight or pay their pay-per-view fee, then jobís a good Ďuní as far as Iím concerned.† Iím just trying to get on in life. If Iím man enough to put the posts up, I have to be man enough to accept any flak that comes back my way.
What I will say is that, whether fans love me or hate me, I always deliver them with value-for-money.
An awful lot of people donít want me to succeed. By and large, this country doesnít like success. People perceive me as cocky and arrogant but I donít give a f***. I donít believe any man can beat me in a fight. Prove me otherwise. End of.
Youíve outrageous confidence in your fighting ability. Whatís that founded on?
Pure self belief built on experience.† From as soon as I began boxing as a teenager, Iíve been able to handle men who were double my age and had double my experience. At age 15, 16, I was sparring pro heavies and, mentioning no names, Ďowningí British cruiserweight champions.
In your late teens you accepted The Lord into your life. In what ways has your faith helped you as a fighter?
It hasnít assisted me as a fighter though I do give thanks for the fabulous life I enjoy as a boxer and I always pray that both myself and my opponent emerge from the fight safely.
But it helps me as a person. Iím still far from perfect, I still continue to sin every day but always ask The Lord for His forgiveness.
My belief has completely changed my outlook on life. Like every man, I need money to provide for my wife and kids but Iím no longer obsessed with material things. Iím thankful every day for those other things that come for free; particularly all my family.
One thing that I do covet is the platform that my success in boxing will provide in helping me to spread The Lordís gospel once Iím done. People tend to listen to the heavyweight champion of the world.
However, Iím very open minded and believe itís far more important that people lead good lives than follow Christianity. Thereís many religions ĖBuddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity Ė and they canít all be right. Can man be punished in the afterlife for his ignorance? I donít believe so.††
David Price, your former amateur conqueror and long term verbal sparmate, unravelled in 2013, losing twice by stoppage to veteran US southpaw Tony Thompson.† Where do you feel he went wrong?
In my opinion, the blame lies with (Priceís ex manager) Frank Maloney because he rushed David into the first fight before he was anywhere near ready for that kind of test.
He was only in his 15th fight and all the recent opponents heíd been knocking out, like Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, were long past it. Then he gets slung in against a seasoned world class operator like Tony Thompson?!
It was like asking someone to try to cross the channel between England and France when they canít even swim! David Price wasnít up to the task at that stage, needed to go some hard rounds but certain factors wanted to cash a pay cheque.
Donít dare compare me to David Price. Tony Thompsonís almost as old as my dad! The way to beat him is simple. Wade straight into the old codger and within a few rounds, regardless of whether youíre landing, heíll be blowing out of his arse. Itís a bit of a no brainer. If people havenít got enough between their ears to see that, they should pack it in.††
Do you still expect David to feature in your future?
Hopefully David can regroup and still provide me with a big money fight down the line. You can never have too many of those. I pray that all my potentially lucrative opponents continue to do well until I can set my fists onto them.
Plenty of people are still stupid enough to think that David Price can beat me. I couldnít give a s***. I hope every future opponent enters with reps as invincible ogres. The more faith people place in my opponents, the bigger the fights become, and the more money that ends up in my pocket.
Your 19 year old cousin Hughie and 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua are both being mooted as potential future world heavyweight champions. How do you rate them?
Hughieís the real deal. Heís really dedicated and a great listener. Outside of boxing, heís polite, doesnít disrespect anybody and is a very nice person. As a fighter, heís tall, a very good boxer with a good brain and heís benefitting from great sparring. Like all of our family, heís got that Ďnever say dieí fighting spirit. Thatís just a natural thing us Furys have.
Now itís a case of developing Hughie through the right fights; proper tests not Ďknock overí jobs against lemons. He needs to face a few tall ones, a few squat ones, southpaws, orthodox, runners, punchers, the whole shebang.
I saw Joshua in the Olympics and thought he lost every fight he had. Now heís got a s*** trainer in Tony Sims so I donít see how heíll develop as a pro. After four or five rounds his tongue will be hanging out six foot!
I really hope that Eddie Hearn doesnít start getting ahead of himself and start trying to match him for titles or putting him anywhere near Dereck Chisora as heís foolishly talking about cos heíll get sparked out. Heís another I want to see get fed easy fights, built up to 20-0. If he gets beat any time soon, thereís no mega payday for me down the line. Heíd be easy lolly.
Do you feel unjustly treated by the WBC who recently matched Bermane Stiverne against Chris Arreola for the title vacated by Vitali Klitschko?
Arreola was comprehensively beaten by Stiverne just nine months ago and youíd won an official eliminator against Kevin Johnson in December 2012. Why not you and Stiverne?
The world of professional boxing is crazy; riddled with mad politics. When I accepted an IBF eliminator after already defeating Kevin Johnson, I predictably slipped down in the WBC ratings. Now Iím being steered towards a WBO final eliminator against Dereck Chisora, I expect all the other sanctioning bodies to f*** me off. But Iíve got to take whatever opportunities provide the quickest route to a shot at a world champion.
I think Stiverne will beat Arreola again when the vacant titleís on the line. He looks decent; strong and solid, tough, a good combination puncher. Arreola has not only come up short against Stiverne previously but also against Vitali (Klitschko) and Tomasz Adamek before that. How can he be more worthy of a shot than me?
But one thing I have to make clear. I fight for money, not belts or glory. Iím a prizefighter and pound notes are the prize. Provided the money is right Iíll fight any of them.
Hovering beneath Stiverne and Arreola in the WBC rankings is big hitting US hope Deontay Wider, the former Olympic bronze medallist whoís wiped out all 30 pro opponents inside four rounds.† His CV also pales in comparison to yours. Is a showdown against Wilder a challenge youíd covet?
In time but thatís not a money fight at the moment. HBO donít want to know because thereíd be no title on the line and thereís no Box Office (pay-per-view) interest here. Right now, thereís nothing on the line.
But weíve both got long unbeaten records, we can both bang and we both talk so potentially itís a blockbuster. When it comes down to it, Iíll handle him exactly as Iíd handle all the others.
Boxing is a business, of course, but when Iím actually inside the ring, Iím never thinking about money or titles, Iím solely focussed on proving myself the better man. Itís not about game plans, itís about heart, toughness, desire, cajones. Itís all about one against one, manos y manos, and I know Iíll never come up short.
Deontay, like all the others, is just a pretender. Theyíre all wolves in sheepís clothing. In me theyíll meet a real wolf and Iíll shred them to pieces!†††
Youíve made a three fight commitment to Frank Warren and BoxNation which will conclude with a monster rematch with European champion Dereck Chisora at a football stadium this summer. Why did you opt to pursue this course?
Simple. For a while Iíve been ready and waiting for big fights. Frank Warren pulled his finger out and produced the goods, put money on the table. Thatís what this is all about. Iíve already beaten Dereck Chisora but Iíll happily beat him again for another fat, juicy pay cheque.
After nine months out, what do you expect to achieve from your return to the ring against American puncher Joey Abell on Saturday week. How important is it to you to outshine co-headliner Chisora?
Iím just looking forward to getting back inside the ring, moving around and dusting off a few cobwebs. Itíll also be nice to gain a few quid again because Iíve been away a long time and Iíve mouths to feed.†
Itís a brilliant idea of Frank Warrenís to put me and Dereck side-by-side on two consecutive bills to drum up interest in this potential WBO final eliminator in the summer.
But Iíve no concern whatsoever in outshining Chisora. Iím simply interested in having a couple of warm-ups and a couple of pay cheques to secure the fight with Chisora, a fight where victory will guarantee me moving on to bigger and better things.
In the co-header, Dereck meets leading American Kevin ĎKingpiní Johnson, the former WBC world title challenger who you comprehensively schooled over 12 rounds in late 2012. How do you expect ĎDel Boyí to fare?
I expect it to be a very good fight but a fit Dereck Chisora should beat a Kevin Johnson whoís only had a few weeks notice.
But if Kevin had ten weeks notice, ĎDel Boyí would be in trouble cos ĎKingpinísí a helluva fighter; a master boxer with a pack of tricks. But, like when he fought me, Kevinís not really had the time to get himself right.
You and Del are on course to collide in a WBO final eliminator in the summer. Your first spat was extremely lively both in the build up and after the bell sounded. What can we expect in a rematch?
No two fights are ever the same. Weíll have to see what happens on the night. All heavyweights can punch which is what makes us so exciting, what attracts the fans to watch us.
Dereck gave me a good fight last time Ė I respect him for that - and has definitely improved since. This time Iím hoping he turns up in shape, no excuses. Last time he only had three months to get himself ready?! How long does he need?
People keep banging on about how heís lost three stone since then but I doubt that will change anything. It was that added bulk that helped him to absorb my bombs and last the distance last time.
Yes, Iíve shown I can be hurt, shown I can be dropped, but Dereck has shown he can be beat, shown he can be knocked spark out. Thatís the form line.
What better passage to a world title could I ask for than a final eliminator against a man that Iíve already beaten convincingly?
After I destroy Chisora again, Iíll be the person to finally beat Wladimir (Klitschko) and go on to become a legend of the sport. Thereís not one ounce of doubt in my mind that itís going to happen.Tags: Tyson Fury