A former two-time world heavyweight champion has offered to help Tyson Fury follow in his footsteps.
Speaking while on a visit to our area, Tim Witherspoon said he believes the Morecambe giant can reach the top – but only if he takes advice from “someone who has been there and done it”.
Witherspoon, who knocked out Britain’s Frank Bruno in his most famous fight, was staying at Pine Lake resort near Carnforth while on a UK trip to promote his upcoming book.
“Tyson Fury, I worked the pads over with him in Ireland,” said the American, who was known as ‘Terrible Tim’ during his 24-year, 69-fight career.
“He’s a really charismatic guy and he’s got everything going for him. He’s got the attitude, his movements, how he fights, a lot of it is real good.
“People think he’s cocky, but all he needs someone to tell him how to speak and how to conduct himself. There are many things he’s got to learn that I could show him. The reason Tyson Fury got knocked down (against Neven Pajkic and Steve Cunningham) was because his feet were in the wrong position. He’s been moving too much.”
Witherspoon praised Peter Fury, Tyson’s uncle and trainer, as “a really nice guy” but questioned his, and other modern-day trainers’ credentials.
“If your car is broke, you don’t get a doctor to fix it, you get a mechanic,” he said.
“I’m ‘Terrible’ Tim Witherspoon, a world champion. I know more than Peter Fury.
“Look at the David Haye situation. His trainer Adam Booth didn’t make him, David Haye made Adam Booth. You’d never heard of Adam Booth before David Haye.
“I’ve tried to connect with Tyson. Even David Price, I offered him my services. I think I’m overqualified. I love all these guys but I’ve got to tell the truth. The guys calling the shots aren’t giving the boxers a fair chance.” The American’s upcoming book will be just as hard hitting as his views on Fury and the 56-year-old Philadelphian will pull no punches.
It will be packed with stories on some of the big names he mixed with, including the legendary Muhammad Ali.
Tim talks about sparring with Ali prior to his fight with Larry Holmes in 1980, when ‘The Greatest’ put up a passive display before being stopped for the only time in his career.
“I thought something was wrong in sparring, he was lacking energy. I think it was the first stages of his Parkinson’s disease. He was telling me in the ring: ‘Hit me!” but I wouldn’t do it. I heard his doctor saying: ‘don’t let him fight, he’s weak’.”
Of his 11th round victory over Bruno at Wembley Stadium in July 1986, he says: “I was in another country with people throwing stuff at me, swearing at me, and I came out on top. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world.”
Witherspoon’s book will also chronicle his biggest fight outside the ring against Don King, the spiky-haired promoter who ruled world heavyweight boxing in the ‘80s.
Tim took King to court in a bitter seven-year legal battle over payments, eventually settling for a £1m payout in 1993. It cost Witherspoon his prime years and a lucrative clash with Mike Tyson.
“Tyson would have beaten me at that time, my head wasn’t right and Don King knew it,” he said.
“But I took a stand. Instead of trying to become champion again I became a governor, a president, a leader of a movement to protect boxers.
“They said I was the Martin Luther King of boxing.”
Tim’s biography ‘Terrible Times’ by Ryan Danes is available to pre-order through www.timwitherspoon.net .
Witherspoon fought in Morecambe in 2008 – a three-round exhibition against local businessman Alan Lingwood.
His professional career record was 55 wins, 13 defeats with 1 draw and 38 KOs.
He twice won versions of the world heavyweight title, in 1984 and 1986.