It’s impossible to know what to believe when Tyson Fury speaks before a fight. In the weeks leading up to his second fight with Deontay Wilder, Fury said he’d learned from their first fight and would change his strategy.
He would, he told anyone who would listen, come forward aggressively at Wilder and knock him out. Most who heard him scoffed and brushed it off as Fury messing with Wilder’s head.
Fury is the consummate boxer, and Wilder was the aggressor, hard-hitting KO artist. It made little sense for Fury to fight that way until he went out and did it and it worked.
He battered Wilder and stopped him in the seventh round of that bout.
Now, as he is only days away from a mandatory defense of his WBC heavyweight title with Dillian Whyte, Fury is again talking. At a news conference last week, he talked about using golf to increase his punching power. On Tuesday at an open workout in London, he suggested he might fight left-handed.
Both may have been throwaway lines he came up with in the moment, because Fury’s an entertainer and he enjoys the cat-and-mouse game, not only with the media but also with his opponent.
There seems little reason that Fury would fight left-handed against Whyte. Every advantage there seems to be on Fury’s side, so introducing a new variable would seem counter to his best interests.
Fury is a strategic genius with a brilliant mind for the game, however, and he sees things that most of us don’t. And so if he says he’s going to fight left-handed, it could be that he’s messing with the reporters he’s talking to, or it could be that he saw something in Whyte that has convinced him that’s the best plan of attack.
“I’ve been boxing quite a bit as a southpaw in camp,” Fury said. “We’ll see. Whatever works. If that don’t work, we’ll switch off to orthodox. If that don’t work, we’ll switch back up. I might just go square on.”
The problem for Whyte is that he doesn’t know how seriously to take Fury. So if he’s being smart, he’ll be prepared just in case Fury tries to fight southpaw for an extended period. If he’s not planning that, though, and he got Whyte to spend time devising a plan for it, that’s a win before the bell for Fury.
The beauty of Fury is that you never know what he’s going to say or do in the ring at a given moment. Perhaps the only certainty is that he’ll sing for the crowd following a victory.
Last week, he was discussing how he and trainer SugarHill Steward have changed training camp to prevent monotony. He said he was using golf to improve his power (stick with us).
Long ago, if there was a perceived flaw in Fury, it was that he wasn’t a massive puncher despite his gargantuan size. Nobody believes power is a problem for him anymore, but he’s working on it anyway.
Fury, who frequently refers to himself as “a real fighting man,” said Tuesday he would retire after the Whyte fight. But he gave away that he was probably only teasing by his words a bit earlier.
He’s in his 14th year as a pro and has nothing much left to accomplish. He’s perceived as the best heavyweight in the world and as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers alive. He’s rich beyond his wildest imagination and won’t have to work a day in his life once he’s done with boxing.
But he continues to fight because of the passion he has for the sport. Even the monotony of training camp appeals to him.
“I enjoy the moment and take it all in because I’m obsessed with time,” Fury said of what he sees as a fight is about to begin. “I’m obsessed even more with moments in time. As human beings, we only have a certain amount of moments in time. These are my moments in time and I try to take every second as a blessing. That’s what it is. I’ve been blessed abundantly to be at this stage of me career and at this position in me life. … I like to enjoy every second I’m in that ring, and for me, it goes very quick. Even if it’s a 12-round fight, it goes by in two minutes.
“I wish I could fight for all day long, like a full day of fighting. That would be more my style. Just enjoy it: Enjoy punching someone and getting punched in the face. It’s absolutely fantastic. People who know what I’m talking about, they’ll understand. But from the average person looking in, it’s something a lunatic would say. I enjoy the fight game or else I wouldn’t still be in it after all these years. I really do love it and it’s probably the only time I’m truly happy.”
'Driving the ball 400 yards, it really does help'
Now, about working on that power. Fury said he frequently changes his training methods to stay fresh.
This time he said with a straight face, he’s pulled his golf clubs out.
“We’ve been doing a lot of driving the greens here in Lancashire at Morecambe Bay,” Fury said. “I think [golfing] has really improved my [right-hand] shot. I’m putting my shoulder into it and really driving it through. Driving the ball 400 yards, it really does help. We did a lot of that. We’d maybe shoot 150 to 200 balls a day. We also do something a little bit different.”
Driving a golf ball 400 yards would seem to make Fury a bigger threat to Bryson DeChambeau than to Dillian Whyte, but noting that just takes away from the show.
Fury is the ultimate entertainer and there will be 94,000 packing Wembley Stadium on Saturday as proof.
There’s no one like him in boxing, and that’s a good thing. Boxing is a sport and sports are meant to be fun.
No one makes their sport more fun than Tyson Fury, so enjoy it while you still can.