“THIS is the last interview I’m going to do in boxing, I’ve had my fill of it,” declared John Fury when Boxing News caught up with him. “I’ll probably never talk to my brother Peter again in my lifetime — all because of boxing. That’s why I’ve taken a rain check. Boxing all comes down to money, power, greed, and glory. Life should be built on respect and love, nothing else is more important.”
The fracture with Peter stems from the split between Tyson and his uncle, which was made official last year when the heavyweight announced his comeback.
The other cause of Fury’s disengagement with the sport his family has always been in involved with is what he believes is a complicit attempt by promoters, managers, and sanctioning bodies to deny fans the evenly-matched fights that they demand so that they can keep making money for themselves.
Take the heavyweight division. The ray of hope that was Deontay Wilder against Tyson Fury was extinguished this year when it became clear that there would not be an immediate rematch. With those two versus Anthony Joshua seemingly a million miles away, Fury understands why fans are increasingly reticent to funnel money into the sport.
“I see a lot of people in this game who shouldn’t be in it and they are only after one thing: money,” he stated.
“That is why I’m saying to all these big promoters that they need to let everyone fight each other. Make it showtime for the fans and give them what they deserve. If you don’t do that they will drift away from the sport and look at something else.”
The former pro also directed his ire towards the endless marinating of fights that either never happen or happen too late, the politicking, manufactured beef, drift, and endless costs of following the sport.
“If there were people like me at the top more people would be watching the fights,” he fumed. “If you are a phoney at any level you will get found out. The world champions in all divisions need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe they are the best. If you are then go out and prove it. In the end, I looked around at these fake people and felt like a square peg in a round hole. Fine, make a few pounds, but throw the public a bone and make sure there is meat left on it.
“We’ve got people saying they might make a fight between two fighters down the line or 2021. What is that doing for the fans? Imagine you’re a kid looking at toys in a toyshop and your dad tells you that you can have one next Christmas and you’re only in January. You’d be sick. The public want more big fights and they pay the money, give something back to the people or risk losing them. If someone can pick [predict] a fight with their eyes closed then they will lose interest.
“Tyson will fight whoever they ask him to fight. If they give Tyson Tom Schwarz, he will fight him. If you told him he was fighting Joshua next week he’d go out there and do it.”
Despite this, Fury’s three-fight deal with Bob Arum and ESPN nixed an immediate return with Wilder, much to the annoyance of the fans. Consquently, some place the blame at Fury’s door for the current impasse. As you would expect, his father argued that the fact Fury took on Wilder after a near three-year absence from world class boxing is proof that he will take the big fights and that the decision to not make the immediate rematch serves a dual purpose.
“The only reason Wilder fought my son is because the people around him thought it would be a walk in the park,” he said. “Get Fury on your record. They thought there was no way he could win. Now everyone knows that he cannot be taken lightly inside or outside the ring. People will avoid him.
“The grand finale for the division is the top men all fighting. I can’t tell you when that will be, I just know that it will happen. At the minute, people want to make a few quid first because this is a business. One of the top three will end up with all the belts, and that man will be Tyson.
“Tyson is ticking over, still getting his body right, and he wants to be 100 per cent match fit. Joshua and Wilder should fight because the whole world knows that Tyson beat Wilder when he was only at 40 per cent. Let them two get all the belts together then let Tyson come and take them all from whoever ends up with them.
“Tyson had almost three years out then comes back and does that to Wilder, what does that tell you? Almost three years of abuse — at one point his body was as weak as water — and he goes out and does that. Tyson will fight anyone, do not doubt that. I told him he’s done more than enough, let them other two have it out. For me, I want to see Tyson and Joshua. If it isn’t made, I’ll go to my grave disappointed.
“Eddie Hearn, Bob Arum, Frank Warren, all the other promoters, they all know Tyson is the best heavyweight in the world. Eddie might not come up and tell you that, but he knows. The promoters need people to pay money and tune in so they all say they have the best fighter while knowing that Tyson is streets ahead of two good fighters in Wilder and Joshua.
“In any other era they could stay at the top for a very long time yet they’ve both got a problem — that problem is called Tyson Fury.”
In the meantime, we can talk about the one fight in this potential round robin that has happened. Fury’s draw against Wilder in December saw him dropped twice. “The Gypsy King” looked a done deal after the second one in the final round only to rise to his feet. Due to his inability to secure a US visa, his father watched it on TV and was as amazed as everyone else.
“The performance was even more than I expected,” he said. “I almost stopped talking to him when he told me he was taking it. I said: ‘You were out for nearly three years, had two bum fights where you didn’t look too good, so why take this risk?’ I was worried about my son.
“Then he did what he did so what do I know? It was the type of thing you would expect to see from a superhuman. Tyson is Tyson, he beats world champions on 40 per cent. He showed resilience of the highest order.
“I’m 54 years old, I’ve been around boxing all my life and I’ve never seen art like the type of boxing Tyson produced. And the bravery. How do you get off the floor after that? Most men would have ended up in hospital and it would have kept a horse down for 10 minutes, never mind 10 seconds. Tyson proved beyond a doubt that he is the best fighter in the world. If people look at what he did and can’t understand why he is the best then they need to get out of the sport. Their heart is ruling their head.”
The performance cemented Fury’s growing popularity in the US, too. The fight against Schwarz will take place at the MGM Grand and his father believes that Tyson’s frankness about his mental health issues has won him a legion of fans.
“A lot of people are suffering out there,” he said. “I hope Tyson has inspired them. I’ve been to dark places myself. Tyson has been in a sport where he has people and fans around him to help him carry on, but I was in dark places on my own and there was no giving up in me so I’ve instilled that in my kids. When the going gets tough you’ve got to get tough with yourself.”
“The way out is communication, talk to people and use the professionals when you need them because that is what they are there for,” he added. “People don’t study in university year in and year out for nothing. They know what they are doing so if you go out and employ the best in their field you are getting help from the top.”
As he alluded to, Fury did a few years in prison for gouging out a man’s eye during a fight in 2010. He was released in 2015. It has coloured the perception people have of him. Rather than bemoaning this, he takes full responsibility for his past deeds and the echo effect they are having in the present day.
“We both know that I went away for more than a few years,” he said. “I spend a lot of time alone. I’m virtually a recluse. I enjoy listening to classical music and quietly going about my day. I do my chores, have a bit of food and watch a bit of TV. I’m not a man who has friends, and with my track record I can’t blame people for that. People see me coming and they walk away. Sometimes it can be disappointing. I’m used to it and it is down to the path I chose — my younger life is catching up on me.
“People think ‘I don’t want to be around this guy’. People don’t get to know me. I’ve only had problems with people who give me problems. My track record is fighting people who wanted to fight me. I’ve never had a fight with someone who didn’t want one.
“I’m avoided by a lot of people. I’m reaping what I’ve sown. I can honestly say that I am different now. I don’t tell lies. I don’t swear. I tell it as I see it whether it offends you or not. If we are building a house on soggy ground it will eventually fall apart. The Bible says that the building blocks of life are founded in the truth. Anything that is fake always come out in the wash.
“You cannot pretend in this life. Be who you are, say what you think, but treat people with respect and give them respect back. You can’t lie all the time, you get found out. A truthful person knows a liar when they see one. You can sit down with them for three-minutes and know it. Boxing has got too many of them people.”
Another issue at the forefront of Fury’s mind these days is the escalation of knife crime. Each successive stabbing reported on the news is a source of frustration for him as he believes it is a crime that destroys the lives of the victim, the perpetrator and their families.
“I want to say this to the kids: avoid bad company, put those knives down, and get a job and a good life. The only way you can get them to do that is with communication. Young kids are out stabbing each other every day. People are good deep down inside, someone in power needs to show them the light and show them the way. Whatever your creed, whatever people call you, we are all God’s children. There has been a breakdown in communication between people,” he said.
“If you have a dispute then do what they do in Tom Brown’s School Days. Go outside and have some fisticuffs. Shake hands. Have a pint of beer. It is a ripple effect. A kid commits an atrocity with a knife and all the families suffer.
“Drugs. Alcohol. All these things in life are leading to these problems. It is easier to be successful in life if you are doing the right things and avoiding the wrong ones.
“I tell people to enjoy life while you can because we don’t see time passing until it is behind us. Suddenly you are in your 40s thinking: ‘I should have done this or that.’ Avoid being one of those people. Make the right decisions as a young man.”
For a man who was initially reluctant to talk Fury certainly had a lot to say. As we wound down I asked if this was really going to be his final interview.
“If you want to you can call me anytime,” he answered. “If you want the truth talk to John Fury. If it is bulls**t you are after go somewhere else. Anyway, I hope this has been an insight into the man I am now.”