Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko engaged in a war of words on television ahead of their World Heavyweight Championship fight.
The challenger and champion stared off across a table in an absorbing 30-minute sit-down conversation on Sky Sports on Monday night.
And by the end, it was Fury’s verbal jabs that seemed to do most damage to a smiling but slightly bemused Klitschko.
“When it comes to that night, I think the world will change because they will have the most charismatic, the most colourful and the most controversial heavyweight champion since Muhammad Ali,” said Fury.
“That’s what the world has been waiting for. The world needs me to change the landscape of the division.”
Klitschko replied sarcastically: “I’m so worried.”
The programme ‘Klitschko vs Fury:The Gloves Are Off’ was chaired by Sky Sports pundit and former world cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson.
It was filmed before the Ukrainian pulled out of the original date of October 24 due to a calf injury.
During ‘The Gloves Are Off’, the Morecambe-based Fury, wearing a flamboyant checked suit, eeriely predicted that Klitschko would withdraw.
“Just turn up and fight,” he told the champion.
“I’ve got to ease off you now. I remember when I put it on David Haye strong with heavy talking twice, he pulled out. So I’d better back off in case Wladimir Klitschko gets the jitters and doesn’t turn up.”
The WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine Heavyweight Champion, who is undefeated in 11 years and holds a PhD in sports science, told Fury he was “an experienced therapist”.
“I’ve seen a lot of things,” said Klitschko. “But I see something new and different in Tyson. It means adjustment in my therapy. I’m not playing games.”
A measured Fury hit back.
“A therapist understands his game, what he teaches. I don’t believe that you understand heavyweight boxing properly. I don’t believe you can teach me anything. It worked against the man with no name (David Haye) because he was no good and too small. It ain’t going to work against me.
“He may speak 57 different languages. It’s not an impressive thing for me. He’s a very good athlete. He’s achieved a lot doing what he’s doing. But that ain’t going to be enough to beat a fighter like me.”
At times, Fury cut Klitschko off when he spoke over him, saying: “I listened to you, show some respect and listen to me.”
Tyson, who is undefeated in his 24-fight career, also told a story about how he outlasted Klitschko when both met in a sweltering sauna in Austria five years ago.
“He got out first,” smirked Fury. “I thought, mental victory.
“I was prepared to die in that sauna.”
Klitschko looked uncomfortable as he said: “I don’t remember. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The pair also talked tactics, as Fury dissected Klitschko’s boxing style and spoke about his three knockout defeats earlier in his career.
“I haven’t been studying your losses,” said Tyson.
“They were a long time ago. You’ve matured as a fighter since then. In the beginning you were throwing combinations and you were open. You have perfected the stand tall, lean back off the jab (style). I won’t be looking for one punch that’s going to knock you out. I’m looking for an accumulation of shots.
“We’re pretty much the same size. I have the advantage of agility and speed over you. It’s unnatural for a man of my size. That’s where you’re going to come unstuck.”
Klitschko remarked: “I always respect my opponents. I need to be challenged.
“Better to be dead than second. It’s a saying from Russia. It’s the attitude than an athlete has. I think you’ve taken this fight too early.”
Klitschko was then asked about the Londoner David Haye, who he beat on points in 2011.
“David Haye would have knocked you out,” he told Fury.
At this, Tyson had a fit of laughter as he spoke about Haye, who twice pulled out of fights with Fury due to injuries in 2013 and 2014.
“He fought you and tortured you. He wouldn’t even fight me twice. He was offered a lot of money. Biggest fight in this country, bigger than you actually. But still, he wouldn’t fight because he saw something he didn’t like. The same thing he saw, you’re seeing. You’re in trouble, my friend.”
Later, Fury described ‘The Hayemaker’ as “a fool, an idiot, a circus clown”.
Klitschko then called Fury “a bully, weak and insecure” and “bipolar” while Tyson said the champion was “a control freak”.
“I’m a natural talent,” bragged Fury.
“Once I flatten you, your brother (former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko) might want to come out of retirement and fight me as well. Who knows?
“First off is Dusseldorf where Wladimir Klitschko is going to sleep.”
Finally, the 27-year-old challenger and his 39-year-old opponent traded barbs about their ages.
“No matter how hard you train and how good you feel, you can’t compete with young athletes,” said Fury.
“I will make you feel your age. The age factor is the key to victory.”
Klitschko smiled and said: “There are some 55 year olds who are very young, both inside and outside, and there are some 25 year olds with a big belly who walk like an old man. Age in reality is just a number. You’re going to learn a lesson.”
The confrontation ended and the two men shook hands.
Wladimir Klitschko vs Tyson Fury takes place on Saturday, November 28 in Dusseldorf, live on Sky Box Office.