By Terence Dooley
Tyson Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) hit Belfast this week as he prepares to woo the city’s knowledgeable fight fans ahead of his fight against Italy-born, Germany-based two-time world title challenger Francesco Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs) at the city’s Windsor Park football stadium live on BT Sports on Saturday night. When talking to the assembled press ahead of the fight, Fury compared himself to a great from the lower weights, slated his opposition, and was generally very Fury-esque when talking about this fight and a mooted meeting with WBC holder Deontay Wilder.
“It is no secret that Wilder will be here for the fight and hopefully we can get it done,” said promoter Frank Warren when opening proceedings.
“Until you beat Tyson, you are not world heavyweight Champion,” he added. “I don’t care what anyone says. He didn’t pick the titles up out of the dustbin, he went to Germany and beat the Man (Wladimir Klitschko). So you have to beat the man who beat the Man, you can’t duck him. Wilder wants to fight him next and is coming over.
“I said to Tyson this fight on Saturday is like having an accumulator, he needs to win or rip that betting slip up. Tyson wins and then we’ll deliver what he craves. They broke the cast when they made him. Boxing is a serious sport, but it should also be fun and Tyson is fun.”
Fury was in a typical playful mood when asked what the Belfast fans can expect this weekend. “I’m the heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard, anything less is not good enough, and you can judge me on that comment,” he declared.
“It is all to play for, if he wins he fights Wilder instead of me, and he will bring his A-Game trying to knock me out. It won’t be successful, but it will be a great fight and I’ll entertain the fans.
“If I come through this, Wilder has a chance to fight me for the linear Championship. Let’s face it, he hasn’t fought anyone despite having 40 fights—it is what it is. Pianata wants to take my glory and cash that cheque.”
Ben Davison, Fury’s trainer, told the assembled press that we can expect a leaner, meaner Fury come the night, saying: “Everything is perfect for Saturday. He’s lost another good bit of weight. You’ll have to tune in on Saturday to see how he looks.”
“I’ve made the right sacrifices, sparred southpaws and he is just a man with boxing gloves, he can’t do anything that I haven’t seen or not done,” added Fury. “If I don’t know what I’m doing I’ll get chinned in about 10 seconds and it will be adios Tyson Fury.”
Pausing for breath, he turned to his promoter and declared, “You are looking ravishing today, Frank Warren—nice tie!”, before turning his attention back to his opponent.
“We don’t see many southpaws in this division so we don’t get to spar too many of them,” he said. “But I have an interesting fact, every southpaw I’ve faced amateur or professional has been knocked out.”
Belfast fans love their boxing. Although Carl Frampton is the main attraction on the bill, Fury has launched a charm offensive since touching down in the city on Monday. “I only landed yesterday, but have done a million photographs and autographs,” he revealed.
“Boxing outdoors in a new experience for me, they had the roof on the stadium in Germany, so it is nice to have a new experience. I have a feeling he will come swinging and trying to hit me in the face, which will be nice.”
When asked by host John Rawling if he can roll back the years to that November 2015 win over Klitschko, Fury thought for a moment before throwing out an answer from leftfield. “I ask myself that every day,” he said.
“The old Tyson Fury is gone. The one from three-years ago is finished. I’m looking to improve on what I am today tomorrow. If it is better or worse than the old Tyson Fury who knows, we will see on Saturday. You won’t see that old Tyson Fury again. After ballooning in weight it was a terrible, terrible uphill battle and one that is mentally and physically draining.
“To do that after getting that out of shape you have to have a want in the brain, but you must have a want in the brain to be a boxer anyway. If I didn’t I’d probably be a lawyer, I’d be Frank’s lawyer now—wouldn’t I, Frank? The want in the brain things means I train like a lunatic and fight until the end, until the job is done.”
Asked what he has done differently, Fury pointed to his facial hair and said: “I’ve grown a beard for this fight, and now I know they are legal I’ll grown one down to my knees because me and Ben have got a beard off going on.”
Talk of regaining the titles led to Fury admitting that he does not quite know what he will do next or whether he could even be relied on to defend the belts should he gather them all up again.
“We have had two-time champions, everyone has done it, and three-time ones, so I want to be a five-time one without losing it in the ring,” he declared. “I’ll win it, retire, balloon up, sow my royal oats, and then I’ll come back and do it all again.”
“I might get chinned on Saturday and crawl across the ring to kiss him on both feet,” he added when asked what if he gets caught with a big shot.
“If I win I beat Pianata, big deal—I just beat another boxer—but if he beats me it is a big thing. In my mind, I’m the greatest heavyweight who has ever lived, and the rest around me now are all bums, so I have to win. I’m going to turn him into spicy Italian sausage, he’ll be a spicy meatball! I’ll give him a good hiding, send him packing, as I have done with 26 others and beat the rest of them. And then who knows? I might go away and get drunk.
Moving on to a more introspective note, the 30-year-old admitted that he became more world weary after winning the titles and during his layoff. Good times turned to bad, lessons were learned, but despite this inward moment of reflection he was soon operating at a more bombastic level.
“In the past, my life was quite smooth,” admitted Fury. “I didn’t know heartache or sadness until the happiness was gone, which is typical as you don’t know what you have until it is gone, so I want to go back to there.
“But who knows? One minute I want 35 title defences, the next minute I want to smash Wilder’s face in, and then I want to batter two people and retire again. I might retire after this one, who knows. I’m still the same old G.”
With Wilder on the horizon, and no easy ask, there is also the small matter of unified holder Anthony Joshua, who Fury dismissed in a few lines. “I offered to fight Joshua in my first fight, but he didn’t want it,” he insisted. “All those bums don’t fancy fighting the ‘Gypsy King’.”
In the midst of all that, there was a bit time for Fury’s quietly spoken opponent to give his take via a translator. “I rate Fury highly, his victory of Klitschko was impressive,” said Pianeta. “I hope to manage another victory.”
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