In a make-shift room in the corner of the MGM Grand, Tyson Fury is waiting to appear on Fox Sports. It’s the Wednesday before what is being billed as the biggest heavyweight fight of the last quarter century.
The 31-year-old is dressed in dark shades that occupy almost the entirety of his face and a baseball cap. The hood of his Las Vegas Golden Knights jacket is up, to complete the look.
In just over an hour’s time, security will be rushing on stage to separate Fury from his biggest rival, WBC champion Deontay Wilder. The press conference would be so chaotic, the Nevada State Athletic Commission would ban the heavyweights from conducting their final face-off at the weigh-in on the eve of the fight.
But this Fury, away from the cameras cuts a far calmer, even slightly subdued figure. He has one message for Wilder: You’ll never measure up to that night in Dusseldorf.
‘This won’t be the biggest victory on my career. That will always be Wladimir Klitschko,’ Fury told Metro.co.uk, referring to the fight in which he became the unified heavyweight world champion.
‘This is the biggest fight in the last three decades. For sure, the biggest heavyweight one. Is it bigger than Mayweather-Pacquiao? Don’t know.’
Fury’s co-promoter Bob Arum has told anyone who will listen Fury-Wilder II can outperform Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao. Frank Warren’s prediction is slightly more realistic, but the British promoter is confident the pay-per-view in America and Great Britain will be gigantic.
With his new coach Andy Lee and brothers standing just a few feet away, Fury says he can’t even recall the last time he lost a fight. He doesn’t consider any defeats in his amateur career as proper losses.
Fury is undefeated in 30 pro bouts, his only blemish the 2018 draw with Wilder in Los Angeles.
‘I don’t even remember my last defeat,’ he said. ‘I never think about defeat. I don’t think about being beaten by Wilder, nothing like that. All I do is win, win, win and win.’
The first fight became an instant classic, but it didn’t generate even half the attention the rematch has. The heavyweight division has experienced a second wind after Anthony Joshua’s quick-fire route to stardom following Fury’s sudden exit from the scene, just at the height of his powers.
Fury’s rivalry with Wilder, though, has become the storyline of the last 15 months.
The lineal champion appears to be saving his energy for the looming press conference, but he perks up when asked his opinion on Wilder’s pedigree.
‘I think Wilder is a little bi*ch,’ Fury responded. ‘He looks like one as well. His fighting style, his attitude, the way he performs, he doesn’t act like a man because he’s a bitch.’
‘I expected exactly what he did in the first fight,’ he continued. ‘There was no surprises. There won’t be any surprises this time round either. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’
Unlike in Vegas this weekend, barely anyone gave Fury a chance against Klitschko in 2015. The Ukrainian had not been beaten in eleven years, had 19 successful defences of his world titles and was fighting on his adopted home turf in Germany.
That fight was a messy affair as Fury outboxed Klitschko, while in his first encounter with Wilder, the Gypsy King practically had to rise from the dead in the 12th round. There was not even a twitch when referee Jack Reiss reached No.7 of the ten count.
But in fight week ahead of the highly-anticipated, almost too-close-to-call rematch, Fury insists Wilder is one of the easiest opponents he’s faced.
‘Wilder is definitely not the toughest fight I’ve had. That’s Steve Cunningham. That was 2013, a long time ago,’ Fury explained.
‘I don’t know if he’s the strongest puncher. I don’t feel any punches when they land. You never do.
‘Your adrenaline is pumping and you can’t remember getting punched. I don’t remember that last time he punched me. Didn’t hurt at all.’
‘I don’t care what Wilder does,’ Fury added. ‘I don’t care what he does, what he changes, it’s not important to me what he does. I’m not sure he has the same feelings about me.’
One thing that will be different the second time round is Fury’s corner. SugarHill Steward replaces Ben Davison as head coach, while former world champion turned trainer Andy Lee will also be on the team.
Fury has gutted his coaching team in a bold bid to employ a drastically different game plan – knock Wilder, the knockout artist, out.
‘We’ve changed the game plan because the last one didn’t work,’ Fury insisted. ‘It’d be crazy not to change it. Even if it’s the 12th round, I’m going for the knockout.
‘This is the first camp I’ve ever concentrated on knocking someone out. Camp has gone very well.
‘I’m still here, still kicking and I can’t wait for Saturday night.’
Even with the biggest heavyweight fight in years, there has been much talk about Joshua and the elusive undisputed heavyweight crown. Joshua and his promoter Hearn have expertly inserted themselves into the Wilder-Fury II conversation by dishing on fight camp rumours and making sparring offers.
Fury has grown tired of the comments and gives a curt reply to the question of Joshua’s stake in the heavyweight division: ‘not interested’. And Hearn’s recent comments about your camp? ‘I’ve no interest in what Joshua or Eddie Hearn says about anything,’ Fury responds.
The loser of this fight can call an immediate rematch, but just before he switches into showman mode, Fury had a blunt message for Joshua – and perhaps, finally, a compliment for Wilder.
He said: ‘This fight is for No.1 and No.2 heavyweight positions.
‘The winner is the best in the division. I don’t have to fight Anthony Joshua to be the best.
‘He’s already been beat. The division was a three-headed monster, but three became two. It’s just me and Wilder now.’
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