Fury’s foul mouth will offend plenty but few will want to miss the Wilder showdown
Why Wilder-fury is irresistable
THE unrufflable Paul Dempsey was ruffled. As Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder swore and scuffled around him, the brilliant BT Sport anchor looked like a primary school teacher trying to keep his pupils calm on the last day of term. The two volcanic heavyweights, set to meet on December 1 in Los Angeles, erupted in technicolour with live lunchtime cameras upon them. “Thank goodness we had gone off air for the last bit,” Dempsey said as he dusted himself down following the final foulmouthed explosion.
There were some grumbles about the former world heavyweight champion’s language and behaviour afterwards, but Fury, it could be argued, did his job perfectly. Some said the prolific f-bombs, dropped all over the London press conference, highlighted a complete lack of respect. Or, at the very least, a concerning inability to behave. But for the vast majority (and this fight has been designed to appeal to those mass audiences, don’t forget) Fury effing and blinding and pushing and shoving was just the ticket.
“I picked Wilder because he’s an easy touch,” Fury roared as many in attendance chuckled. “I’m going to f**k him up. He’s a lemon and I’m going to squeeze him nice and hard.”
The three-day media tour, which began in London and will take further stops in New York and Los Angeles, will unquestionably offend a few but, crucially, will entertain a whole lot more. This is the way to do it these days. Manufacture a grudge and the buys come rolling in.
Promoters might argue those it offends are not the target audience, anyway. People who find it all abhorrent are likely split into two camps: Hardcore boxing fans who don’t need the pre-fight pantomimes to persuade them to buy; and the anti-boxing lot who suddenly have more ammo to fire after bad taste aplenty spewed from the mouths of the two heavyweights.
Fury was not just selling the fight, though. He was selling his madness to his opponent, and the danger that comes with it. He decided to invite Wilder to an impromptu body spar on stage – “a little tickle” – before berating him in a manner the WBC champion will not have experienced before. It was no surprise when the American forcefully pushed his tormentor backwards.
“Am I under Wilder’s skin?” Fury commented. “One-hundred per cent. He’s mentally baffled at the moment. I’m living in his head rent-free.”
Wilder accepted that Fury’s ‘I am crazy, watch out!’ routine worked for him in the build-up to his 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko. But Deontay also recognised that Fury will need sane heads to manage his chaotic mind, namely Uncle Peter, who has been replaced as trainer by Ben Davison.
“We know that boxing is more mental than physical and for him to beat Klitschko, he had to get into his head,” he said. “When the fight came, it was self-explanatory.
“This is the time, the moment in our lives, this is everything. And when you don’t have that same trainer that you came up with, that voice that you know even when there are thousands of people in that crowd, you still hear that one special voice.”
Fury always seems to teeter along that tightrope of self-control. At some point it’s likely he will lose his balance again. Whether that comes against Wilder or in a more private setting is anyone’s guess. Now, though, Fury needs this fight and this kind of challenge to stay focused. Should he defeat Wilder, which is a distinct possibility, he deserves all the credit in the world for playing an absolute blinder.
Both inside the ring and out, we just don’t know what we’re going to get with Tyson Fury. Likely, he doesn’t know either. For sure Wilder doesn’t. It’s for exactly that reason Fury is the most fascinating heavyweight of his generation. And this showdown with Wilder, whether you enjoy the manic build-up or not, is the most enticing attraction of the year.
CALM YOURSELVES: Dempsey has a tough time with Wilder and Fury at the London leg of the press tour