Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko finished their London encounter on Wednesday dressed in designer suits that would not have looked out of place on the trading floor of the City but, before business was concluded, the wild Mancunian contender had paraded in front of the heavyweight champion of the world dressed as Batman.
If Clark Kent had been in the front row on behalf of the Daily Planet, he would not have looked out of place.
After arriving in a yellow Batmobile, Fury did a lap of the room, leapt over the table and wrestled to the ground someone (a member of Rada, perhaps, or a moonlighting Bristol City mascot) done up as The Joker. Klitschko called Fury a clown, with some justification, and promised to get him a job in Cirque du Soleil.
This was the sort of behaviour familiar to those whose beat is the outskirts of sporting weirdness, and it lent a layer of the surreal to what promises to be a rollercoaster of stunts between now and 24 October, when they share a ring in Düsseldorf to dispute the Ukrainian’s WBA, WBO and IBF belts.
“I’ve never had such an entertaining press conference,” Klitshcko said. He was not so impressed when Batman returned as Fury, a picture of sartorial elegance in Prince Edward check, and unloaded a familiar fusillade of stock abuse.
“I can already tell you’re afraid because you’ve got the biggest gloves possible,” Fury shouted. “You’ve never fought a Gypsy King before. I cannot wait. Welcome to my city, welcome to my town, UK baby. It’s a very personal mission for me to rid boxing of a boring person like you. I’ve fallen asleep listening to you. You have as much charisma as my underpants – zero, none! You are a robotic person who is not exciting to watch. Jab, jab, hold, that’s all you do.”
In quieter surroundings later, Klitschko told Sky Sports: “I didn’t expect [anything like that]. I did expect a lot of action in a certain way. I know Tyson Fury is acting a lot and some times he is really crossing the line where acting is defined as stupid. With the costumes and wrestling with The Joker and all of this, that was interesting.
“I was looking at him and I thought, OK, this is not something I have [seen] many times before. Instead of saying, ‘Thank you to Wladimir Klitschko for giving me the chance’, he made his appearance.”
Klitschko, at 39 near the end of his gilded reign, is far from a Joker. He has knocked out 53 all-comers of varying worth and held on to his title for 11 years. The unbeaten American knockout specialist Deontay Wilder defends his WBC title against the spectacularly anonymous Johann Duhaupas in Birmingham, Alabama, this Saturday, but his credentials have not been properly tested.
Fury has done well to get this shot against Klitschko, having endured serial frustrations in trying to get the injury-prone, semi-retired David Haye to trade blows over the past few years. Fury is bigger, heavier and younger than the champion; he might just pull off an upset to match his bellowing.
To get the opportunity, he has had to keep winning and keep grinning.
Wednesday’s pantomime was a counterpoint to the press conference he attended in 2014 with his mouth taped, after being fined £15,000 for a foul-mouthed tirade at Dereck Chisora. Loud or muzzled, he is never dull. He went on to school Chisora, a win that put him in line for Klitschko.
All will be forgotten and forgiven when the bell goes for the most anticipated clash of the big men since Haye so disappointed in his sore-toe challenge to Klitschko four years ago, and there will be hugs afterwards.
Monitoring Fury’s pre-fight behaviour is never a dull gig. In an odd world, there are not many who match him for oddness. Here he was bang on form. And there are serious students of the fight game who reckon he will be no joke on fight night.
Behind the laughs, there is an unbeaten 27-year-old heavyweight who should at the very least give Klitschko his hardest night – more demanding, certainly, than that provided by the likes of Jean Marc Mormeck, Tony Thompson, Francesca Pianeta, Alex Leapai and Kubrat Pulev, none of whom heard the final bell in challenges since Haye’s. Only Mariusz Wach, Alexander Povetkin and Bryant Jennings went the distance in that stretch.
“There’s always the fear of losing,” Klitschko said. “That’s what makes me alert and prepared.”
It is safe to say he was not prepared for Batman.
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