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I want to be the first £500m heavyweight boxer : Tyson Fury interview

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Published Time: 13.05.2024 - 10:41:11 Modified Time: 13.05.2024 - 10:41:11

Exclusive With a legacy defining fight against Oleksandr Usyk on the horizon, Fury makes clear what his main motivation is Getty Images/Richard Pelham One moment Tyson Fury wants to become “the first £500 million heavyweight boxer”, the next he does not care about his legacy and simply wants “to beat the silly sausage” Oleksandr Usyk here on Saturday night, then he veers into a detailed historical thesis on the heavyweight division

Exclusive: With a legacy defining fight against Oleksandr Usyk on the horizon, Fury makes clear what his main motivation is

: Getty Images/Richard Pelham

One moment Tyson Fury wants to become “the first £500 million heavyweight boxer”, the next he does not care about his legacy and simply wants “to beat the silly sausage” Oleksandr Usyk here on Saturday night, then he veers into a detailed historical thesis on the heavyweight division. It is typical Fury: a series of zig-zags, sometimes contradictory.

Picking a route through the changing mind of Fury has never been easy. The 6ft 9in, 19st boxer will transform into his alter ego of the “Gypsy King” this week ahead of the most important contest in his career since first becoming heavyweight champion by dethroning Wladimir Klitschko nine years ago.

Up close, Fury looks in magnificent condition ahead of the first fight for the undisputed heavyweight title for a quarter of a century. He says he is “in the same shape as when I fought Klitschko” but he is a very different boxer now, with miles on the clock: 30 punishing rounds against Deontay Wilder, a roughhouse 10 rounds against the former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou last October, gashes and scar tissue around his eyes. Throw in the weight climb to 29st and the two-year period in the wilderness, and Fury – 36 years old in August – is surely close to calling time on his career for good.

Yet undefeated Fury, who has previously announced multiple retirements, declares that he will fight “eight to 10 more times to the age of 40” – at the encouragement of His Excellency Turki Alalshikh, a Saudi minister and his great supporter – and then adds: “Happy days, with those fights I’ll become the first £500 million heavyweight boxer in history.”

Some legacy that would be.

Yet on his legacy, Fury becomes obdurate. “Look, this is an important fight but again, I hate to say it because the boxing fans and the boxing purists and all them w------, they don’t want to hear it, but why do you think I box? For the money. If anybody in this building, or anybody in professional boxing, tells me they don’t do this game for money, they’re lying to you, and I speak from the heart. I do it for the dough. The bigger the deal, the better. I’m a prize-fighting pugilist specialist. That’s what I do. I fight for the prize, whether it be gold bars, gold coins, cash, transfers, cars, whatever you want to pay me, pay me in bags of sand for all I care, as long as I can make a drink on it, deal done.”

‘I’m going in there to get paid, get laid, and come back to Morecambe Bay’

The epicentre of mega fights is now Saudi Arabia, with its huge investment in the sport. “Saudi is amazing, very welcoming,” explains Fury, who has been out in the heat for the last two weeks. “It’s the opposite out here to what I had heard. Look, this fight with me and Usyk was made with Turki, His Excellency, in 25 minutes. That’s all it took. This is a good fight, I’m not too concerned about what people are going to be saying in 100 years. The dust from our bones won’t exist in 100 years, never mind what they say about a boxing match in 100 years. We’ll all be dead, my kids will be dead, my wife will be dead, my dad will be dead, anybody I ever cared about will be gone.

“So I’m going in there to get paid, get laid, and come back to Morecambe Bay. I probably won’t even buy anything, because I don’t need anything. I’ll go to the shop and buy a bit of shopping, probably be tighter than I am today. I’ll do the rematch exactly the same, get paid, get laid, come home, Morecambe Bay, still not buy anything.”

While Fury is somewhat dismissive of his own legacy, he is an astute student of the history of the heavyweight division and is quick to pay tribute to previous greats over the past 150 years. He propounds on John L Sullivan being “a pioneer”, becomes lyrical about gypsy bare knuckle champion Jem Mace and talks of “gentleman” Jim Corbett before telling stories of Gene Tunney, Jack Dempsey, Primo Carnera, Joe Louis and others. He calls Muhammad Ali “the greatest of all time” and then shares his admiration for Mike Tyson’s “knowledge of the division”.

: Getty Images/Richard Pelham

Fury will need his cloak of invincibility against two more rivals – Usyk and then Anthony Joshua – and the era will belong to him, just as previous periods are now etched with the names Lennox Lewis, Tyson, Ali, Louis, Jack Johnson... Usyk is a two-fight deal, with Joshua scheduled for March 2025. But anything can change quickly in boxing.

This contest with Usyk was delayed from February 17 because of Fury’s eye being cut in sparring. “I’m not concerned about the eye,” explains Fury. “If it gets cut, the viewing figures will go up, there will be blood everywhere and I won’t let them stop the fight…

: Getty Images/Alex Pantling

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