TYSON Fury is not in the best of moods. It’s 11 days before his next big fight, he can’t get any quality sparring, he’s not happy with what he’s getting paid, and he wasn’t expecting my visit even though it was arranged two weeks ago.
The 6ft 9in boxing champion glares as he squeezes his towering frame into his surprisingly tiny mobile home in Skerton, sporting several days’ growth of intimidating beard. The giant prizefighter is hungry for his mid-afternoon meal and seems about as irritable as a wounded grizzly.
It’s certainly one of my more daunting assignments.
“Don’t worry about it, they arrange these interviews all the time and never tell me,” says the 23-year-old, as he sits down at his dinner table.
The adopted Lancastrian doesn’t seem impressed with his publicity team, headed by PR legend Max Clifford. But in his current frame of mind, he doesn’t seem impressed with much at all.
His opponent, the North American champion Nicolai Firtha, who Fury meets in Belfast this Saturday, had better watch out. Tyson seems ready to rumble. So how’s training going, I ask nervously?
“All right. I’ve had some local lads, cage fighters, come here, like Anthony Diprose. I’m appreciative of them, they’ve helped me out with sparring. But I’m struggling like mad to get boxing sparring partners. No one will come here.”
He adds, with sarcasm: “I’m going into a 12-round fight with no sparring – that’s very professional isn’t it?
“Mentally and physically, knowing that I haven’t done the right stuff, it’s not good so close to a fight.
“But I’ll get some sparring on Wednesday. I’d never pull out.
“Firtha will probably be my toughest opponent yet. But I know he can’t beat me. I take every fight totally serious. I should beat him easy.
“But he’s a big heavyweight and it’s 12 rounds. Boxing, it’s a very funny game...”
Many boxers go into seclusion away from their families before a major fight. Not Tyson, who has stayed close to heavily pregnant wife Paris and daughter Venezuela, nearly two.
“I tried that for my last fight against Dereck Chisora, went away for five weeks. It didn’t work.”
Even so, on July 23, Fury outboxed Chisora to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles at Wembley Arena, and extend his undefeated record to 15 wins.
Since then, his national profile has soared. He’s been in magazines, newspapers – everyone seems to want a piece of Tyson Fury. And boxing experts are tipping the good-looking, charismatic Gypsy as a future world heavyweight champion.
Tyson himself says: “I’m probably the most famous boxer in Britain.”
See The Visitor (14-09-11) for full story.