Monday, May 13 

Another day, another embarrassment in which John Fury was at the centre.

His 35-year-old son may be just days away from a career-defining victory that would enhance his status as one of the very finest heavyweights of all time, but John Fury – not unlike in much of the documentary footage surrounding his prizefighter son Tyson – was apparently unable to resist again attempting to be the centre of the world.

The 59-year-old grandfather is listed on BoxRec as an unremarkable 8-4-1 heavyweight who stands 6ft 3ins. He was stopped in his final two fights – the first in 1991 by the respected Henry Akinwande, and the second four years later by Steve Garber, who he had previously outpointed in 1987. By 1995 Garber had a losing record, having lost a further 17 fights, so it is tempting to look at John Fury’s record and conclude that he realised that in 1995 he had already given the best of himself to the boxing ring and that there was nothing more that he was likely to achieve.

Tyson Fury’s achievements, regardless of whether he loses on Saturday, will long rightly be celebrated, so why almost 30 years later his father is threatening to cast the most negative of lights on so historic a fight – for the undisputed heavyweight title – remains unclear. 

“I am a warrior, that is what we do,” he explained after needlessly head butting the considerably smaller Stanislav Stepchuk, when bigger, alternative targets had been guiltier of “coming into my space”, as he described it. For the sake of balance, he later said: “Sincere apologies to everybody involved.” Also for the sake of balance, that so-called apology including him saying that Stepchuk “had to have it”.

“I didn’t touch him,” Stepchuk said. “He went crazy.

“Yeah [I wanted to punch him], but because of the age difference it would not be very fair. He should not look for an actual fight because he could have a heart attack and finish in the ambulance.” 

Stepchuk, of Usyk’s entourage, resisted pointing out the poetic justice involved in John Fury being the one to throw the head butt yet leaving the scene with blood pouring from his head and Stepchuk remaining largely unscathed. The damage to John Fury – his gargantuan ego aside – also regardless appears minimal, given how much more severe the consequences could be if the Saudi Arabian authorities choose to investigate (it has been reported that they will not).

Saturday’s fight, which remains one to be relished, is central to the ambitions of the Saudi Arabian elite attempting to rehabilitate – or sports wash – their country’s reputation. Tyson Fury fought in Riyadh before – when in 2023 he struggled to victory over Francis Ngannou – and is the world’s highest-profile heavyweight. 

John Fury had been unable to attend his son’s trilogy of fights with Deontay Wilder because he was denied entry to the United States as a consequence of his conviction in 2011 when he was found guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm after gouging a man’s eye out in a brawl in 2010, leaving his victim half-blind. He was handed an 11-year prison sentence, of which he served four. 

The negative publicity his bullying drew on Monday not only demonstrated that the grandfather who is supposed to know something of rehabilitation has instead apparently learned little; it certainly helped neither the Saudi Arabian powerbrokers’ he seems so fond of, nor his son’s cause.