Tyson Fury’s serial burlesque continued in Cologne on Thursday but the world heavyweight champion did not sound as if he was joking when he said he would probably quit boxing if he lost his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko in Manchester on 9 July.
Whether the Mancunian was serious when he claimed he was a “recovering heroin addict” who still took cocaine and ecstasy was impossible to know, given his innate capacity for irreverence and wind-up. But Fury sounded convincing when he revealed that, after a few days on a natural high when he beat Klitschko in Düsseldorf in November last year, he was “rock bottom”, adding: “What does it all really mean? Nothing, does it …
“I’m still trying to figure what life’s all about. Life’s about family, I suppose, being happy with your surroundings, and your wife and kids … But obviously I don’t fit in anywhere. I’ll be searching till the day I die.”
Four stone overweight, and appearing bored and detached, Fury went into the Ukrainian’s backyard and reiterated his distaste for boxing, which lit up their meeting the previous day in Manchester. He told the video interviewer Kugan Cassius: “I don’t like it. I’ve done what I’ve got to do now and I want to get out of it. That’s it. As soon as I can get out the better.”
Asked if that meant he would walk away if he lost to the former champion, he said: “Probably, yeah … unless I can get some big money somewhere else.”
That would send a minor shudder through his team, his promoter, TV backers – not to mention his chief rival, Anthony Joshua – but the unpredictable Fury has always been his own man. His uncompromising views on women and homosexuality have offended many – including Klitschko, who repeated his previous disapproval of them.
Fury cares little for the opinions of others – including the television personality Piers Morgan, who goaded him on Twitter. “Piers tweeted a fat picture of me, saying he’s fitter than the heavyweight champion of the world and inspirational. I tweeted back saying: ‘If only you could talk like me you’d have your chat show in America back on TV.’”
He said he must be “doing something right” if he was attracting the interest of celebrities but added: “I’m not really interested. I’ve got no celebrity friends. I’ve got no different friends than I’ve had all my life. Just the same person, a simple person. Don’t live an extravagant lifestyle.
“Just want to be left alone in peace, really, so I can have a chicken sandwich. I’ve said it a lot of times, haven’t I? So, it must be true, what I’m saying. After this fight I’ll have enough money to retire and there’ll be no motivation to carry on.”
He also said he would gladly swap roles with his wife, Paris, if she wanted to take the punches and he could stay at home and do the housework. “Of course I would. I’d happily sit at home, drive a brand new Range Rover about and go spending money how you like… chilling out with your friends and taking your kids to school. It’s an easy life, isn’t it? Easy life of a housewife.”
He has spoken before about handling depression, and said there was “no in-between” for him. “It’s either high or low. I’m either off my head on cocaine or down on the floor from a tranquiliser injection. Most of the time, I’m just down and depressed like today, because for every high there’s a low.”
As for the fight, he said: “I don’t care whether I win or lose. Win or lose, I don’t know what’s going to happen… I’m sick of it. I’ll tell you what would be funny, if I turned up in this shape for the fight. I’d be fucked after five rounds.”
For now, he was going to “see the wife and kids at the weekend, then back to training, get some weight off”.
As much as he tries to sound nonchalant about the prospect of sharing the ring again with the best heavyweight of the past decade, there is growing concern in Fury’s camp about his attitude.
His trainer and uncle, Peter, told Sky: “This is a genuine 50-50 fight. Klitschko knows what to expect. Tyson knows what to expect. Knowing Tyson so well and knowing boxing a little bit, and I see a stoppage in this fight. I don’t see it going to the distance.
“I’m not a man to exaggerate my words. This is the way I see this fight panning out for either man. You are one punch away from disaster in heavyweight boxing. It’s what makes it so exciting for everyone around the world. Enjoy the fight and may the best man win.”
That sounded very much like a trainer seriously worried that his fighter has lost the focus that lifted him to the best performance of his career less than six months ago.
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