WITH a surname both a blessing and a curse, Tommy Fury could have gone one of two ways. He could have either continued the fighting tradition of the Fury family, thus following in the footsteps of his big brother, Tyson, or he could have taken the easier route and used his sibling’s fame to lord it up in Manchester city centre, enjoy the party boy lifestyle, and simply reminisce about the days he followed Tyson around the world and watched him win the world heavyweight title.
That the 19-year-old has chosen the former says a lot about not only the pull of the Fury fighting family but also the discipline and determination of their latest member. Having decided on his path, Tommy Fury now makes his professional debut this Saturday (December 22) in Manchester, backed by an amateur career comprising just 12 bouts, and is convinced his futures lies in professional boxing – not amateur boxing, not in night clubs, and certainly not in the shadows of better-known relatives.
“I had a few amateur fights but hated amateur boxing because it was just like a game of tick, to be honest,” he told Boxing News. “It’s just touching and moving. I thought to myself, ‘What’s the point in trying to be an Olympian and do all these things as an amateur, when it’s not even the same sport?’
“In the pro game, fights are won and lost in those later rounds. I didn’t like the headguards, I didn’t like the big gloves. For me, this is true fighting.
“I wanted to be a pro. I had 12 fights, and I knew what it was about. I knew what it was like to walk out and get in the ring and have a fight. A few people were whispering in my ear about turning professional and I thought, ‘Why not? Let’s go for it.’
“Also, I believe the sparring I’ve had, and being around the training camps I’ve been around, has given me a great amount of knowledge and experience. That’s made up for the lack of amateur fights. I sparred a lot with Tyson and Hughie’s sparring partners and did the same training they did and watched them do all their media obligations. I experienced it all.”
Fury has been preparing for his first pro start for the best part of a year and describes himself as a “puncher-mover” who can both “box and bang”. He believes it is a style that will excite and is one he has cultivated over the years, feasting on a diet of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather and Max Baer.
“As a young kid, all I used to do was go to bed and watch old fights on YouTube. I still do that now,” he said. “I like all the old-school fighters and I like to take a little bit of what everybody does and add it to my style. If you can take all the best bits from someone else and use it for your own style, you can create something really good.
“From day one my life has been boxing. I haven’t had the average life of a teenager. I’ve not been going out drinking and partying. I’ve just been in the gym day in, day out and making sacrifices. It’s been a hard life, don’t get me wrong. It’s not been all glory. Being in the gym with Tyson and Hughie and doing their training is very hard. It’s gruelling. It’s taxing on the body. I’ve definitely earned the right to be where I am today.”
While Tommy Fury knows this to be true, some will say the only reason a 12-bout novice is receiving a share of the spotlight ahead of his pro debut is because of his surname. They will argue that had his name been Smith or Jones, not Fury, his first pro start would cause barely a ripple. They would be right, too, Fury acknowledges.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you without Tyson,” he said. “I thank him very much because everything he has done has paved the way for me. I am a very level-headed person and I know why I am here and what I’ve got to do. That’s the main thing for me. Tyson’s success has opened many doors for me and I appreciate it.
“There’s going to be a lot of attention because of my surname. But every spar and fight I’ve ever had, it’s been the same. I’ve always had tons of pressure on me because of my surname.
“When you invite someone down to the gym they want to test themselves against me purely because of my last name. Everybody watching me will be there thinking, ‘Okay, let’s see how good he really is.’ It’s all pressure.
“But I’ve learned to live with it and I’m not putting any pressure on myself or thinking I need to live up to Tyson’s name or Hughie’s name. If I finish my career and know I gave it my best shot, I’ll be happy.”
There will be attention, there will be pressure, and there will be unrealistic expectations placed on Tommy Fury. Not only that, he will inevitably have to deal with comparisons. His style, for example, will be compared with that of Tyson. So too will his personality.
“I wouldn’t say I’m as loud as he is, but I am an interesting guy, you know,” Tommy said. “I’m not shy. I can talk. If you ask me a question, I can give you a proper answer. I feel like I’ve got a good outgoing personality and am thoughtful. A lot of people I speak to say I’m very mature for a younger guy. I’ve got an old head on young shoulders.”
If ever this was in doubt, one only has to consider the fact Tommy Fury, at a time the Fury name is at the peak of its powers, has decided to make a low-key-ish pro debut and dedicate his life to a sport that rewards only the very best. He is 19 years of age. Not many would do the same.
“Everyone says that to me and I believe that is the case,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, there have been chances for me to go off the rails and let it get to my head. I could have been bouncing around Manchester town centre going, ‘Oh yeah, I’m Tyson Fury’s brother. I’m this, I’m that.’ I could have been acting the big boy.
“But anyone who knows me knows those words never leave my lips. I never shout about being Tyson Fury’s younger brother or doing this or doing that.
“At the end of the day, just because Tyson’s good at something doesn’t mean you’re going to be any better. I am very lucky to be in the position I am in and I’m not going to let it slip. I’m going to show everyone I deserve to be in this position.”
Over the years there have been other Furys who have been and gone; Furys who lacked the staying power of Tyson and Hughie; Furys who didn’t cut the mustard. Yet, early though it is, the feeling with Tommy Fury, the latest to pop off a thriving production line, is that he might be good enough, nay, committed enough to go the distance.
Josh Warrington defends his IBF World Featherweight title against Carl Frampton exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday 22 December. Watch for just £19.95, for more info visit www.bt.com/sportboxoffice