Astonishing moment Fury shocked the world
Tyson Fury was sitting shirtless with his suit jacket buttoned, a wardrobe adjustment he had made minutes earlier during a tussle while facing off with Deontay Wilder in a downtown ballroom.
The two will meet Saturday night at Staples Center for Wilder's WBC heavyweight championship and what better way to promote a pay-per-view fight than with some drama. So when the words got heated during Wednesday's press conference, the 6-foot-9 Fury removed his shirt as corner men and seconds pushed and shoved on stage.
Minutes later in a quieter room, Fury couldn't have been happier with what transpired.
"I hope people were entertained with it," he grinned. "I enjoyed it. He knows he can't outbox me so he's trying to get me emotionally involved in the fight. He feels the need to shout and glare. But he's going to look like the clown that he is. He's never fought a beast like me before."
Their Showtime pay-per-view showdown is the biggest heavyweight fight in America since Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield squared off. Wilder of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is 40-0 with 39 knockouts and will be making the eighth defence of his title, while the British-born Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) is considered the lineal heavyweight champion, having dethroned Wladimir Klitschko three years ago.
The fact Fury, 30, is back in the ring is a personal victory. When he defeated Klitschko on Nov. 28, 2015, in Germany, he captured the IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles. But at the height of his career, he spiralled into a self-destructive pattern of drug and alcohol addiction and depression. It left him contemplating suicide and cost him his titles.
"I hit the drugs. I was out with women of the night and not coming home," he said during a recent interview with Joe Rogan. "I didn't care about boxing or living. I just wanted to die. But I was going to have a good time doing it."
Known as the "Gypsy King," Fury was out of boxing for nearly 2½ years, ruining a proposed rematch with Klitschko. Living a life of gluttony, he ballooned to 400 pounds. On Halloween night in 2017, he prayed for recovery and redemption and once sober began his return to the ring.
He has shed more than 150 pounds in over a year and fought twice since June. But he views Saturday night's title fight as his true comeback bout.
"After everything I've been through: mental health problems; drug addiction; alcohol addiction; I'm back," he said. "I've defeated all the ills. How am I going to let somebody beat me with a pair of boxing gloves on?"
Fury was in the throes of his addictions in 2016 when he made homophobic, sexist and anti-Semitic remarks for which he later apologised.
"I said some things, which may have hurt some people, which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do," Fury said at the time. "Though it is not an excuse sometimes the heightened media scrutiny has caused me to act out in public. I mean no harm or disrespect to anyone and I know more is expected of me as an ambassador of British boxing and I promise in the future to hold myself up to the highest possible standard."
He insists he is a new man, stronger mentally and physically and more appreciative of boxing.
"I was born and raised to fight," he said. "Both sides of the family are all fighters. We don't know anything else. When [I'm] not fighting, all I do is put on weight and get depressed. I need boxing. No boxing; no life. Boxing is my passion. It's a love affair."
Fury's father, John, who named his son after Mike Tyson, is a former bare-knuckles fighter and pro boxer. John Fury, though, won't be at Saturday's fight. He was denied entry into the United States because of a previous prison sentence for gouging a man's eye out. John Fury was released in 2015 after serving four years for a brawl in 2010.
Fury's British promoter, Frank Warren, thinks his fighter is ready to pick up where he left off three years ago.
"I see where he's at and it's a testament to this man coming from rock bottom to here," Warren said. "I know he's in a great place after overcoming all the problems he had to get to today."
Still, just how much the last three years took from Fury is uncertain. It's a challenge to be inactive and lose all that weight and maintain top-level skills. Fury believes he's better than ever.
"I feel fantastic. I look fantastic and I fight fantastic," he said. "And you'll see a fantastic display when I fight against the Bronze Bomber, Deontay Wilder. I'm ready as ever. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't ready. I'm here to do my job and enjoy myself. Deontay Wilder is getting knocked out by me Saturday night."
It's a victory he is here at all.