by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
The strange atmosphere surrounding the upcoming title fight between undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and challenger Dillian Whyte, both of the UK, got even stranger when the two fighters appeared, though not together, at a press conference Thurdsay afternoon (April 14).
Fury has previously announced that this second defense of his WBC Heavyweight Title will be his final fight, that he is mentally finished with boxing, and after fighting Whyte will be ready to lead a life of decadent luxury as a very rich man.
Yet during the lead-up to his previous fight, Fury’s first defense of his WBC strap against American puncher and former champ Deontay Wilder, Fury was keen to tell the world that he is a “fighting man” who only truly feels at home in the ring. He indicated then that he would be fighting well into the future. That there was nothing else that he truly cared about outside of boxing and his family.
However, after defeating Wilder in a thrilling third meeting between the two men, Fury had a change of heart. After the list of five fights he desired in the future (a fourth fight with Wilder, and a third fight with gatekeeper Dereck Chisora among them) was met with derision–with current unified world heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk’s name conspicuously being left out–Fury’s attitude suddenly shifted. After facing mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte (who was knocked out cold on his feet by 40-year-old Alexander Povetkin of Russia a mere two fights back), Fury claimed he was out, done and dusted. Retiring.
So he said, anyway, though it’s probably true that few people in the boxing game took him very seriously.
Today’s press conference was a surprisingly dull affair, with the normally excitable and voluble Whyte, who has been silent and invisible during the fight’s lead-up, and the always talkative Fury making separate appearances via Zoom. Both boxers tended to stick to rote answers about having great training camps and being excited for their upcoming fight in the UK on April 23. With Fury and Whyte not sharing any air time, neither man could really get too worked up, and the questions asked by selected boxing journalists often left much to be desired.
For instance, the journalists picked to ask questions were careful to avoid the explosive topic of reputed Irish mob boss Daniel Kinahan, to whom Tyson Fury has been linked in recent reports in the mainstream press. Only one of the selected journalists brought up the topic of Fury’s impending retirement from boxing, and the question seemed to throw the WBC champ for a bit of a loop. Fury hemmed and hawed and ducked, quickly changing the topic to how well prepared he is for Whyte, and not mentioning retirement again.
“I’m only thinking about Dillian Whyte at this moment, I’m not thinking about retirement,” said Fury, blatantly contradicting earlier statements that this fight is it. “After the fight we’ll think about what is gonna happen and what the future holds for me.”
Another very interesting change of tune from Fury, who as recently as March 1 of this year proclaimed, “I’m retiring after this fight…I have no ambition after this fight, I’m done. No interest in anybody, retirement, baby! $100 million in the bank, undefeated champion.”
Fury said after Whyte, his life would resemble a movie star’s, no longer a fighting man, but a jet setter enjoying ““Miami, boats, Ferraris, Lambos.”
Today, however, he suddenly sounded unsure. Perhaps the winner of the upcoming rematch between Usyk and Anthony Joshua, who Fury had planned a mega-fight against before Usyk upset A.J., will help determine the fighter’s future. The WBC champ has so far shown very little interest in taking on the undefeated Ukrainian cruiser and heavyweight boxing master, who recently fought for his country against Russian invaders, and is now in Poland training for his contracted meeting with Joshua.
In a move that might impress Tom Brady, is Tyson Fury already un-retiring before he even officially retires?