Knocking on Tyson Fury’s hotel room door you’re not sure what will meet you on the other side, writes ADAM LORD.
Arguably the most unpredictable man in sport, the Morecambe-based giant’s antics ahead of his career-defining night on November 28 have veered from the bizarre to the controversial.
As he answers the door the 6ft9 former British and European champion dominates the doorway like he will hope to the ring in Dusseldorf when he takes on Wladimir Klitschko.
Fury, still only a baby in heavyweight boxing terms at 27 years of age, almost has to stoop as he welcomes us in warmly despite it becoming quickly clear that he isn’t expecting us.
The meeting at The Whites Hotel attached to Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium had been arranged with his trainer and uncle Peter Fury, I explain.
“Peter tells me nothing,” smiles a man who is just days from challenging the undisputed number one in the world.
Visibly tired from a morning training session, Fury looks lean and appears ready to go. Batman costumes and controversial comments about homosexuality seem a world away.
The delayed fight, originally set for October 24 before the Ukrainian champion picked up a calf injury, means Fury has been put through his toughest ever training camp.
“I’m feeling calm and relaxed,” he says now slumped in a sofa that conceals his ample frame.
“I’m just trying to build my energy back up. It’s been a long, hard training camp.
“On November 22 (when Fury and his team fly out to Germany) it’ll be five months.
“I always train hard it’s just been a bit longer this time with the fight being cancelled.
“It was on and off and whatever which made it a bit more awkward but it’s done now.
“It doesn’t matter if it was mind games or not because it hasn’t affected me.
“I kept training, I didn’t lose my mind and here I am today.”
There is little bravado in his demeanour, almost as if the time for trash talking is done.
After six weeks in each of three different locations - France, Liverpool and Bolton - Fury knows ultimately that there can be no excuses on the night as he challenges a 39-year-old champion who hasn’t lost for 11 years.
“I can’t do anything more than I’ve done,” he says.
“I’ve been in camp for five months. I’ve trained, eaten and slept boxing.
“I’ve not been out drinking, I’ve not been taking drugs, I’ve been doing nothing.
“If I’m capable of doing it now will be the time.
“If not, I wasn’t good enough obviously and there’s no shame in that really.”
For a man often so loud and proud about his chances of dethroning the undisputed number one in the world it is an almost surprising admission.
But considering every answer, Fury won’t waver from the point that winning simply isn’t everything.
“I’m not really interested in what he does,” he says, when asked about countering what Klitschko has to offer.
“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.
“I’m sure he’s got a thousand things that he wants to do in his own mind but when you get punched in the face everything changes.
“Listen win, lose or draw, either man can only do his best on the night.
“There’s no shame in losing in a fight. There’s got to be a winner and a loser.
“People can’t stay winning forever. No matter how good you are there’s always somebody out there better.
“There’ll be no hard feelings either way. I wish him the best of luck. I hope he’s had a good camp and may we both come out of the ring healthy to our families.
“It’s just a sport. It’s strictly business.”
It is a business Fury says that more than anything allows him to provide for his family.
Amidst all the controversy and big fight nights over a unblemished 24-0, seven-year ring career it is clear that what matters most is wife Paris and children Prince and Venezuela.
“I haven’t worked all my life for an undefeated record,” he says.
“I’ve worked all my life to get money and to provide for my family.
“Since I’ve been a professional seven years I’ve been married with kids.
“It ain’t about a record or what somebody thinks about me it’s about me paying bills at my house.
“Paying for food, water or rent, whatever I’ve got to pay. It’s not about an undefeated record.
“That’s not going to pay bills or put food on the table.”
Surely therefore a world heavyweight title fight at the 55,000 Esprit Arena, with the fight being broadcast live around the world, is the ultimate chance to make sure his family are provided for?
“I don’t need to worry about that now,” he insists.
“They’ve got a roof over their heads and win, lose or draw I’m set up for life.
“If I had boxing or I didn’t have boxing I’d still be able to earn money because I’ve got a brain in my head and I can use it.
“I don’t need to get punched in the face to earn money, some people have no other option.
“At any given time I can pack in boxing and earn a living doing different things.”
Fury has hinted on more than one occasion that he could retire after the Klitschko clash knowing that it will simply gets no bigger for any fighter than what lies in store on November 28.
“Like a journalist said to me the other day, ‘this is the biggest fight of your career’,” he says.
“‘Even if you beat Klitschko, you’re not going to have a bigger night in your career’.
“When am I then going to face a champion who has been champion for 11 years?
“I’m not, because there’s not going to be one. This is the biggest fight with the most on the line that I’m ever going to have in my whole career.
“That is unless I fight (WBC champion) Deontay Wilder in 10 years and we’re both on top.
“That might be similar, but to fight a man who hasn’t been beaten for 11 years and a fella who nobody can beat in 26 title defences, is going to be a big achievement.”
What would be an even greater triumph would be victory which, despite insisting earlier that it is not the be-all and end-all of November 28, is clearly at the forefront of his mind as he looks to lift titles previously held by the likes of ring greats Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.
“From the first moment I put a pair of boxing gloves on it wasn’t about just being a boxer or a local champion it was always about being the best,” he says.
“I always have been the best in what I’ve been doing whether that’s been the British title, the European or the Commonwealth.
“All them titles I’ve won in the past I’ve had to be the best in that zone at that time.
“Now I’m on the world level it’s all or nothing.
“I don’t want to be a number two, there is no losing.
“It’s aim for the stars or nothing. If I’m going to be a world-class performer I’ve have to perform on the biggest stage and the biggest stage is knocking the super champion off his perch.”