“People don’t understand how much I have to kill myself in the gym to get the weight down,” says Tyson Fury, wincing at the fresh reminder of three hard sessions a day, most days, since mid-April.
“The worst is when you are totally shattered after 12 three-minute rounds, yet you have an hour on the cross-trainer. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been on it for ages, yet the timer only says seven minutes. It’s horrible – the most boring thing in the world.”
Yet so dramatic is the transformation in Fury’s body he could probably reveal all in an infomercial and retire off the profits. He has lost three stone in seven weeks, is noticeably more muscular around the back and shoulders and claims to be far fitter too. And there is another x-factor he believes is helping his preparations for his rematch with Wladimir Klitschko: giving up meat.
With Fury such claims come with a handle-with-care warning. However, he sounded sincere when he talked about having wanted to give up meat for a while and how he felt far less sluggish as a result. “It’s got to the point where, if the man next to me at the restaurant is eating a big juicy steak, I’m like: ‘Urgh, that’s disgusting,’” he explained. “It can’t be good for you eating a big piece of bloody meat like a steak because, unless you are rearing your own animals, it is very contaminated.”
Instead for the first five weeks of his camp – situated in the unlikely confines of an industrial estate in Steenbergen, a Dutch town near the Belgium border – Fury’s diet consisted of mostly salad and fish, although he has recently started adding potatoes. Yet don’t expect him to embrace veganism any time soon. “I don’t like vegetables,” he admits. “I have to force feed myself them because of my job. The only ones I like are sweetcorn and mushy peas and potatoes.”
Fury insists that gluttony can sometimes be good. “I put on three stone after winning the title but I enjoyed every second of it,” he said, that familiar glint in his eye. “It cost me a fortune too. There were a lot of lobsters and fillet steaks went into this belly. A lot of champagne, a lot of vodka, a lot of beer.
“But I’m a big believer in that you have to get unfit to get fit again. Every time I’ve stayed in shape in the gym I’ve got stale or got injuries. But when I balloon up and have three or four stone to lose my muscles are allowed to recover to be ready to go banging again.”
Klitschko, of course, has a very different approach. “He stays in the gym 365 days a year, I stay in the gym in 12-week periods,” says Fury. “But I can go from an obese fat pig to a ripped Adonis in 12 weeks. It’s unnecessary to keep in shape all year round. It only helps you if you want longevity.”
At their earlier press conference to announce their rematch Fury took his top off and showed a belly which sagged below his belt – before taunting Klitschko that he could not even beat a fat man. It prompted a few raised eyebrows but Fury insists he was deliberately toying with his opponent. “I am the king of the mind games,” he says. “I know what I have to do to get into these guys’ heads, especially someone like Wladimir, who is a control freak. The best thing you can do to someone like that is be unpredictable. And that is what I have. The skeleton key.”
However, Fury is not taking anything for granted against a fighter he believes remains the second best heavyweight in the world. “A wounded animal is always at his most dangerous,” he says. “The only man on my radar at the moment is a 6ft 6in Ukrainian, a former super champion. I’m expecting him to do the same kind of thing, jab, jab, jab, try to get close enough and hope I sit on the ropes or in a corner so that he can detonate a bomb. That’s not going to happen.”
He knows he has to be careful. “He did catch me with one right hand, around round seven, right on the jaw. But I looked at him and said: ‘Come on.’ It didn’t even hurt. I looked to Peter [Fury, his trainer] and told him I could walk through his punches. He said to me: ‘Don’t get hit by him.’ When you walk on to shots, they’re more powerful. When you’re slipping, sliding and riding the shots, you don’t feel anything. Ali was a master at it, wasn’t he? You don’t take forceful shots. He caught me with a left hook and I felt that for about two weeks afterwards.”
That is one reason why Fury intends to come in a few pounds heavier than the 18st 6lb he weighed in his first fight, because he believes it will help strengthen his punch resistance. He feels he is stronger in body too, given he is now leg-pressing half a tonne and bench-pressing 170kg. Meanwhile the intensive sessions spent flipping tractor tyres across his gym are rapidly improving his core and conditioning.
“It’s just train, eat, sleep, repeat,” he says, before dispensing a final warning for Klitschko. “I will beat him in every department.”
Tyson Fury v Wladimir Klitschko is live on BoxNation on Saturday 9 July. Subscribe via boxnation.com
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