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Tyson Fury: ‘My battle that continues with mental struggle on a daily basis. That’s my toughest and always will be my toughest challenge in life’

Tyson Fury
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The mind of Tyson Fury is a fascinating place. In an exclusive interview, the heavyweight champion speaks to John Dennen about his great struggle, the Wilder fight and what sets the 'Gypsy King' apart

TYSON FURY is calm. He is calm speaking to Boxing News just few days ahead of his third clash with Deontay Wilder. He’ll be calm in the boxing ring in the tumult of heavyweight prizefight. There, despite the raw power Wilder can unleash at any moment, Fury will be at peace.

“When I’m in that ring at certain moments I just go into autopilot and it does everything itself. It knows what it’s going to do and that’s it, just sit back and enjoy the ride,” he says quietly. “I’m not sure what he [Wilder] does. I’ve never really looked at him when he throws his punches. Wilder’s quite good at getting his punches off fast, accurate and hard. Pretty good.”

But, Fury continues, “I’ve been at this game a long time. I’ve been practising it a lot. That’s it really. I’m very difficult to beat, through all the attributes that I have combined makes me a hard man to beat. Not only my size, I’m the biggest heavyweight out there, I’ve got the biggest mass out there as well, I’ve got the longest reach out there, I’ve got the most unorthodox style, I believe. I can switch, I can come forwards or backwards, I can go to war with somebody, I’ve got a great engine, I’ve got no quit in me and that’s it. All that combined makes me hard to beat even on my worst night ever.”

It’s hard for an opponent to anticipate what Fury is going to do when he himself relies on his instinct. Fury has had so many rounds, in training, in sparring, in competition, that in the midst of a fight, he’s at ease. That sets him apart among the heavyweight elite. “I enjoy it a lot, I enjoy boxing, that’s what I live to do. I’ve got nothing else in my life apart from the boxing. It’s my hobby and keeps me occupied. It’s everything to me,” he says. “I love the boxing, I love the training, I love the fighting, I love the sparring, I love everything about it. It’s not going to last forever. Nothing does. Every good thing has to come to an end and every good dog has its day. So I understand that. And there’s more to life than a boxing match to be fair. I’ve got my family, I’ve got my young kids coming up and my nieces and nephews and brothers and father and mother still alive, you know. So I’ve got a lot to live for and I’ve a lot to be thankful and happy for. Boxing’s been very good to me. It’s given me a good outlet in my life, it’s given me a good career, it’s given me a good purpose and I’m very happy with everything I’ve done.”

From dethroning the then imperious Wladimir Klitschko in Germany to coming back from a troubled two year absence from the sport to begin this sequence of fights with Wilder, Fury has established a legacy that now he can build on. But he is content. “There’s not just me, there’s a lot of fighters that have good input on it all over the years. After me there’ll be more and there’s been more before me. I’m just a pawn on the chessboard, like we all are in life and that’s all you can ever be really. Just a sports entertainer. There’s plenty before me and I’m sure there’ll be plenty after me. I’m happy with my place here,” Fury said. “I’ve lived a good life and I’ve had a good career. I’m really happy with it all. If I didn’t win another fight, I’m happy because I’ve achieved everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve and much, much more. I’ve done stuff and been places and got stuff that I never thought would be possible.”

Fury has the WBC heavyweight belt, while, with his win over Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk now holds three of the other alphabet belts. But Boxing News recognises Fury as the heavyweight world champion. “Whoever the lineal champion is in each division, the lineal champion that’s the man of the moment. Although I’ve held every belt that there is to hold, to be the lineal champion is very special because there’s a lot of title-holders in history but not so many lineal champions. The baton gets passed on and on through history and I’ve been a part of that,” Fury said. “As for one belt, one name, one champion, I’m not so convinced of it all because there’s organisations out there and they’ve all got their own commissions and stuff, their own fighters and all that and it helps. It’s a big help in everyone making some money because if there was just one title then there’s be a lot less people earning a lot less money. There’s a lot of money to go round, there’s a lot of fights to go round, plenty of opponents so I don’t think it’s a real issue to be fair.”

Tyson Fury vs Wilder
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The dynamic of the heavyweight division has changed, with Usyk coming through and joining Joshua as one of several appealing future opponents for Fury. But those fights will be something to consider after the weekend. First he has to conclude his rivalry with Wilder on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The American has doubled down on far-fetched allegations that Fury managed to ‘cheat’ to win their second fight. The Briton however declines to read all that much into Wilder’s claims or their pre-fight interactions. “I don’t really look into it too much to be fair. We’re here to do our job nothing more, nothing less really,” he said.

“I don’t take this personal, this boxing game, because when you start taking things personal and it goes wrong or right, it takes over your life. But when it’s just business, it’s just business and that’s how I like to keep it,” he insists. “I’m feeling absolutely good. Couldn’t wish for any better feeling.”

The fight of his career, Fury maintains, wasn’t Klitschko and isn’t going to be Wilder or indeed anybody else. “I think my defining fight is my battle with mental health,” he said. “I get millions of messages and letters and everything, people change their lives and stop from killing themselves and stuff. More now than ever, the mental health struggle’s very, very live and real and a lot more people are waking up to the fact that it’s a real illness that you can’t see. It’s a real killer and help’s out there for anybody that will just reach out. I know it’s hard because I’ve been one of those people who didn’t want to go, didn’t know where to turn. But the help is out there and the sooner you get help the better you become and return back to whatever was normal for you.

“That’s what defines me as a person. Not any specific opponent or a boxing match. It’s my actual fight and battle that continues with mental struggle on a daily basis. That’s my toughest and always will be my toughest challenge in life.”

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