WHILE Tyson Fury has proven almost impossible to pin down for most of his 27 opponents to date, the 6ft 9in heavyweight has himself found any semblance of joy even more elusive despite a career which has gleaned untold riches and three world heavyweight title belts.
But with a back-dated two-year drugs ban, a 1000-day ring hiatus and a training regime that ‘felt like a prison’ now well and truly in the past, the self-styled Gypsy King believes his pursuit of happiness is finally over.
The result has been a physically and mentally fit fighter who continues on a path towards a rematch with the WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder via a pair of reasonably obscure undefeated European heavyweights called Tom Schwarz and, on Saturday night here in Las Vegas, Otto Wallin.
“Vegas is an amazing, surreal experience isn’t it?” Fury says. “I said to my brothers there – what would a 14-year-old Tyson Fury say to a 31-year-old Tyson Fury who has had his last three fights in America and doing everything that he ever dreamed of and more times 10.
“I always knew I could come back when I wanted to, but I didn’t know when I was going to get the urge to do it again. I thought to myself after two and a half years out of the ring, I’m not going to get that urge – then it happened.”
A link up with then-little-known trainer Ben Davison followed and the 6ft 9in Fury no longer balloons up in weight, due to what he describes as a total change in ethos to his previous training regimes.
He says: “I have a structured plan in my mind of what I want to do on a daily basis. The most important thing in my day is to get up and work out. I don’t care about anything else in that day, the most important thing, the first thing I have to do, is get up and go training, whether it’s running, lifting some weights, going to the boxing gym, I must work out.
“It keeps me physically and mentally focused on the job in hand. It releases an endorphin in the body, and I feel good all day until about 6 or 7 o’clock and I need it again, so I get up and go for another run or another training session.
“Even when I’m not in training camp I try and do twice a day. I try and eat clean. I came into training camp at 259lbs, I fought my last fight at 255lbs, I’m walking around under my fight weight. Before, in my first career, in my first life, I’d come in at 25 stone.
“As soon as I got out of that jail – because that’s what it was to me at the time, in my mind it was prison – training camps, I would go AWOL and eat five or six takeaways a day, I’d eat everything in sight and drink 17 pints of beer to wash it all down.
“Now I have a more structured, dedicated life, I don’t want to do them things, it’s all out my system so I’m glad I had a mid-life crisis and a breakdown because now I can be a man, I can stand up to responsibility and take it on the chin what’s coming. I’ve had a lifestyle change.”
His new lease of life has coincided with an eight-fight broadcast deal with ESPN reported to be worth close to £100m. The first fight was his two-round destruction of Tom Schwarz in June.
His promoter in America, therefore, is Bob Arum, who can count Muhammad Ali among his former clients. Arum, ever since, has taken great pleasure in comparing the outspoken Fury with the Louisville Lip.
“Bob is a very experienced guy,” Fury says of the comparison. “He has been around a lot of great champions.
“I believe that every one has their own era to deal with and contend with. Every generation we have a character and an unrivalled character, an unrivalled personality and it is fortunate enough for me that I’m the unrivalled personality of MY era.
“Because I don’t know anybody who can compare and I don’t believe there will ever be another after me. Unlike me, before me, there has never been one like me. I’m the first of my kind and the last.”