“I’M FLYING,” said Tyson Fury, taking his seat. “I’m f**king flying.”
Twenty-five minutes later, an enraged Deontay Wilder was charging at him. The smile of a fighting man emerged from Fury’s beard. He took his jacket off, then his shirt. He roared, enlivened by the combat in the air.
Fury’s team, including members of his family, rushed on to the stage. Wilder’s team were already there. Punches were thrown before promoter Frank Warren, with a bit of help from security at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, managed to curtail the chaos.
On the three-year anniversary of Fury’s points victory over Wladimir Klitschko, the Briton again wormed his way into the head of a heavyweight champion. He did it with Klitschko in a different way and here in Los Angeles he appears to have done it without even trying.
“It’s three years since I went to Germany and kicked Wladimir Klitschko’s arse all over Dusseldorf,” Fury said. “I’ll do the same to the ‘Bronze Bomber’.”
Tyson Fury has said a lot of things over the last few weeks.
He’s going to retire and become a doctor.
He was approached as a child and asked to be a basketball player.
He’s going to give his entire multi-million dollar purse to the homeless.
He got strip searched at the airport.
He is going to relocate to America.
He is going to knock out Deontay Wilder.
Out here in Los Angeles, the former world heavyweight champion was at his excitable self-promoting best – or worst, depending on your taste – at the final press conference ahead of Saturday night’s shot at the current WBC world champion.
Wilder began the afternoon calmly when you compare to his mood at the end.
“I cannot wait,” he said. “The time is clicking, it’s boiling down, there’s only three days left. Can you feel the energy? This is a moment I’ve been waiting for my entire career. This is my time. Fury has had his time. He had his window after he beat Klitschko. He had a little fun and we can’t blame him, he deserved it. But now it’s my time.”
He went on to suggest that Fury had it easy to reach the top in Britain. Easier than Wilder’s own journey, at least. Not true, said Fury. African American Wilder appeared to take the disagreement personally. He saw it as a slight on his own heritage and race, as Traveller Fury accused him of not coming from a fighting background.
“It’s easy to make it in his country,” Wilder said again. “But not here. I will be damned if I let a man from another country come and upset what I’ve been working my whole life.”
The 33-year-old Wilder is unbeaten in 40 fights and widely regarded as the biggest puncher in the sport. Fury is three years younger, but two-and-a-half years of truly atrocious living could ultimately cost him more when all is said and done.
With a new team assembled, close friend Ben Davison taking the role as head coach, Fury announced his comeback to much fanfare at a Park Lane hotel earlier in the year.
He returned in June, his mental demons tamed, serious weight lost, grizzly beard gained, and the inept Sefer Seferi defeated with exhibition-like ease. Another victory over Francesco Pianeta followed.
Logic should tell us that Seferi, Pianeta and all that came before – the drugs, the obesity, the booze – are awful preparation for a world heavyweight title challenge.
With that in mind, it is remarkable that Fury has made it this far, so soon. It is little surprise he keeps talking because to stop and dwell on what awaits on Saturday night might make him think twice about the task ahead.
But we must remember this is Tyson Fury. His whole life has defied logic. And anyone picking Deontay Wilder to walk through Fury on Saturday night might think twice after witnessing how quickly the champion lost his temper today.
Perhaps this will all be little more than the kind of hot air so common in the immediate build-up to fights. Long forgotten when Wilder knocks out Fury as planned.
But if Tyson Fury does it again, stuns the boxing world and defeats the favourite, today will be the latest example of how Fury’s mind, and the games he can play with it, allows him to win a fight before it’s even started.