TV BOSS Mark Sharman took one look at Tyson Fury before his pro debut and asked promoter Mick Hennessy: “Is this fat kid really going to be world heavyweight champion?”
Fury was ‘fat’ having spent the last few days on honeymoon with his wife, Paris. “The holiday was all inclusive in the Algarve,” said Fury. “You could eat and drink as much as you want – and I did.”
He only stopped eating after Hennessy told him there was a chance he could make his pro debut on the undercard of Carl Froch-Jean Pascal in Nottingham.
At 261 lbs, Fury was nearly 70lbs heavier than Bulgarian cruiserweight Bela Gyongyosi and knocked him out inside a round.
DEFEND YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES
HUGHIE FURY, Tyson’s late uncle and trainer at the time, had asked for Lee Swaby to be Tyson’s debut opponent.
Hennessy decided against that and Fury went on to meet the Lincoln southpaw in his fourth fight, in Birmingham, in March 2009.
Though his record was 23-22-2, Swaby, who had challenged for British and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles, came to fight. The best punch Fury took during the fight, however, he actually threw himself. Fury aimed a right uppercut at Swaby in the fourth that missed – and hit him flush in the face instead.
Tyson said afterwards: “The punch would have knocked out a lot of boxers.”
IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT
THE late Emanuel Steward invited Fury to Austria to join Wladimir Klitschko’s camp.
Fury remembered: “During the camp he (Klitschko) had a bit of an attitude because Emanuel kept saying, ‘Tyson is the next heavyweight king.’
“Wladimir is known as the sauna king, I can’t stand them, but I’m competitive at everything I do. This sauna was the hottest thing I had been in in my life. Everyone was naked and one by one people started leaving, then Wlad stands up and starts waving a towel around.
“I felt like I was going to pass out, but I thought: ‘I’m not going to quit because if he beats me here he was got a mental win over me.’ So I leant back and thought: ‘If I pass out, they won’t let me die in here.’
“So I am staring at him and he is staring at me and finally, he stands up at about 35 minutes, grunts and walks out and goes straight to his room.
“I got up and almost fainted in the shower. But he knows he won’t beat me at anything.”
THE NON-REFUNDABLE TICKET
THERE was nearly an unscheduled addition to the O2 Arena bill that was topped by the George Groves-James DeGale grudge fight in May 2011.
Fury spotted Derek Chisora making his way to ringside and lost control. “I saw him walk past and said: ‘When I fight you, I will knock you out,’” remembered Fury.
“He said: ‘There’s not enough money in the fight,’ so I ripped my shirt off and said: ‘I don’t fight for money, I fight for honour. Let’s have a fight now, the old-fashioned, street-fighting way’ and he bottled it.”
Tyson said it took more than 20 security men to get him out of the exits. “They asked me nicely to leave and I left nicely,” said Tyson. “It’s a good job they didn’t try to push me out of the door… I paid £100 for the ticket and asked for a refund, but I didn’t get it.”
After the fight was announced, Fury turned up to the press conference with a pair of little people acting as his minders.
THE press conference to announce the Fury-Chisora rematch went ahead without Tyson after he tipped over a table and walked out.
Fury was restless at the next press conference as well, ranting and swearing uncontrollably. Even Chisora tried to calm him – but couldn’t.
Fury’s mood wasn’t improved after Chisora pulled out of the fight with a hand injury, forcing the fight to be put back five months.
The British Boxing Board of Control punished Fury for his outburst with a £15,000 fine and to the disappointment of reporters, he put taped a piece of paper across his mouth when they met at the next press conference and answered questions with his hands.
Asked how long the fight would last, he stuck up his middle finger and then thought again. He stuck up two fingers and pointed them at Chisora. It took him 10 rounds to batter Chisora to defeat.
VOICE OF AN ANGEL
AT the culmination of one of the best nights in British boxing history, Jim Lampley, the HBO commentator, saw what he considered to be “one of the strangest moments in heavyweight history, if not the strangest.”
Fury, who claimed a lineage to million-selling folk band The Fureys, was singing I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, a weepie penned by veteran rock goliaths Aerosmith, to his wife, Paris, in front of a stunned crowd at the ESPIRIT Arena in Dusseldorf.
It had been a strange affair from start to finish.
Fury had arrived at a press conference in London dressed as Batman and then leapt from his seat to eject arch enemy The Joker – his cousin Hughie – after he appeared.
He went on to sing The Wind Beneath My Wings at a public workout in Germany in the days before fight having previously left Klitschko bewildered and amused by his apparent overconfidence.
As it turned out, Fury was right to be confident. He played with Klitschko at times – sticking his hands behind his back – and the champion had no answer.
“Not only did we fool the boxing fraternity, we fooled the Klitschkos,” Tyson said afterwards.
KISS AND TELL
AFTER more than 1,000 days away, Fury returned to face Sefer Seferi in Manchester.
There was a bizarre moment at the weigh-in when Fury picked the Swiss cruiserweight up in his arms, making Seferi laugh. More peculiarities were to come.
As referee Phil Edwards gave the fighters his instructions in the moments before the opening bell, Fury leaned forwards and gently kissed Seferi on the lips. Both fighters smiled.
There was an exchange of Ali shuffles in a strange opening round and then Fury suddenly stopped fighting in the second. He turned away from Seferi to watch a fight in the crowd at ringside.
Seferi didn’t know what to do. So he did nothing. Either he felt it would be unsporting to hit Fury while he was distracted – or he feared the consequences of taking a cheap shot at such a huge man.
Either way, Fury reconnected with his own fight after a few moments and forced Seferi to retire after the fourth round.
PHOENIX FROM THE FLAMES
AFTER routine wins over Seferi and Francesco Pianeta, Fury was booked in for several after-dinner evenings, including one at Cannock’s Bar Sport.
There he would be interviewed in front of diners by Richie Woodhall and as they chatted beforehand, Fury told the former WBC super-middleweight belt-holder he would be fighting Deontay Wilder next.
Woodhall told promoter Scott Murray and he was unconvinced. “Don’t ask him about that,” was his advice. “He’s having us on.”
He went on to fight Wilder, against the wishes of even his father John, and produced one of the iconic moments in heavyweight history in the 12th and final round.
Wilder celebrated after seeing Fury hit the canvas hard from his right hand. The fight was surely over. Not only did Fury get up, he went on to dominate the rest of the round.
BIG STIFF IDIOT
Who can forget when Fury appeared to be on a collision course with David Price and was invited, live on television, to discuss the rivalry. Fury, struggling to contain himself, twice called Price, among other things, a ‘big stiff idiot’ before the interview was aborted due to Tyson’s potty mouth.