I AM a legend of this game. There has never been a heavyweight like Tyson Fury or a heavyweight who can beat me. Do you know why? Six-foot-nine frame, 270lbs weight, I can move like a middleweight, I can hit like a thunderstorm and I can take a punch. I’ve got balls like King Kong, the heart of a lion and the mindset of the Wizard of Oz.
From being a little boy, I was always destined to be the world heavyweight champion. My family always believed in me. It’s been a very special career.
Massive thank you to [my promoter] Frank Warren. A lot of people don’t know but Frank brought me back from the brink of death. He gave me a big contract to box again when everyone else was probably scared to get me in the ring again.
From being a big old fat boy six months before to selling 20,000 tickets against Sefer Seferi (in 2018) in Manchester it really was the ‘Return of the Mac’. Then we sold 35,000 tickets for Windsor Park. I didn’t have a great performance against Francesco Pianeta because I wasn’t even ready. I was supposed to have two more fights at the same level but I said, ‘Frank, get me [Deontay] Wilder. I’m either the best in the world or I’m not.’
I’ll hold my hands up, I wasn’t ready for Wilder the first time. It was too quick [after my layoff] but we took it anyway because I’m a fighting man. It was a great fight and it’s gone on from there; it’s got bigger and bigger and bigger.
It peaked out here against Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium. What a welcome I had tonight in front of 94,000 of my fans, it was fantastic. I was here, only a few weeks ago, at a press conference on my own and I single-handedly sold out 94,000 tickets. I don’t believe there’s an entertainer in the world – in sports – who on their own can sell 94,000 tickets. So, yes, I pat myself on the back.
Before the fight, in the changing room, I told my team: This is going to be an exceptional performance. I could feel it, I knew I was going to put on a show. Everything was good, my jab was good, everything.
Derek Chisora said he’d bet his house on Dillian Whyte beating me. Well, Derek is now homeless, so unlucky. But I do have a house next to me in Morecambe and, Derek, you’re welcome to live there. The moral of the story is, never bet your house on something unless you’re one million per cent sure. Now he’s homeless, good luck to him.
When I brought in [trainer] Sugar Hill Steward, he made me feel like a rank novice. He made me feel like a piece of shit. I was undefeated world heavyweight champion and he’s the only man that could have made me feel like I’d never had a fight in my life. But it takes a special mentality to go back to grass roots and start again. We put in a lot of time over the last few years – people don’t know about all the camps we’ve had, and not just for fights, where we’ve been training, training, training for this style. We practised long range punching, the use of the jab off the shoulder the shot I kept catching Whyte with was the check hook. We’d been practising and practising that.
I caught the ‘Body Snatcher’ with a left hook to the body. I said, ‘You’re hurt aren’t you Body Snatcher?’ and he said ‘Yeah!’ I thought I was boxing really well. Touching him with the jab, not getting too involved. Fair play to him, he tried to make it rough in there, tried to manhandle me but have you ever tried wrestling with a dinosaur before? I’m like a T-Rex, I’m 6ft 9ins, I’m 270lbs. He tried hitting me with the elbows, he tried nutting me, using the forearms. But when you try and cheat in a fight, you always come up second best. He went to nut me and he got cut. But he deserves credit.
It was a very special night. What a way to top it all off.
Before I fought Deontay Wilder for the third time, I was in my house in Las Vegas and I said to [my wife] Paris, this is going to be the last fight, I don’t want to do this anymore. After the fight, in the shower, I said it was definitely my last fight. I was happy with that decision then I get a call from Frank [Warren] saying, we can do a homecoming fight at Wembley. I said to Paris, I’ve got to do it one more time, I’ve got to get the old boots out once again. It was a tough decision – I would go to the gym in Morecambe and watch Joseph Parker train and say to Andy Lee, I’m happy I’ve retired.
It’s been a fairytale and more than I could ever dream of as a kid or as an adult. Thanks to everyone who played a part in the making of me. I am very happy with my career. I’ve won every belt there is to win; if this was a computer game, it would definitely be completed.
I am happy with my decision. I am going to go home and spend time with my family. I have fulfilled everything I wanted to fulfil. I am going to retire as only the second heavyweight in history after Rocky Marciano to retire undefeated. Is it a final decision? I definitely think so.
But I won’t rule out exhibitions – I’ll take some of that Floyd Mayweather money. Don’t rule me out of fighting at the [WWE] Summer Slam. Don’t rule me out of fighting [UFC fighter] Francis Ngannou.
I’m an entertainer and that’s what I do best.