By David Mohan
IT’S not every day a recent, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world visits West Belfast, but on Monday, Tyson Fury chose the newly-refurbished St Paul’s ABC behind Riverdale shops as the venue his first training session in quite some time.
The 29 year-old won the WBA, IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring titles from Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, but has been inactive since due to a number of well-documented issues.
A former amateur with Holy Family ABC in North Belfast, Fury is no stranger to the city and he boxed here three times as a professional, defeating Nicolai Firtha at the Kings Hall in September 2011 before following up with wins over Martin Rogan and Kevin Johnson at the Odyssey Arena the following year.
This return to the gym does not necessarily mean we will see the 6’ 9” Fury back in the ring any time soon as he insists he is merely just trying to get back into shape, but his fans will be hoping the 29 year-old decides to try and get back into fighting shape before going onto reclaim the heavyweight title he didn’t lose in the ring.
“That’s my first session in quite a while,” he confirmed.
“I’ve not hit the pads in a minimum of six months. You never lose your power and speed, especially when you have just turned 29. The speed is still there.
“I thought I would come to Belfast’s fair city where the girls are so pretty to do my first training session back.
“I boxed in the Kings Hall, boxed twice in the Odyssey. I would do a training camp here if I decide to come back. I haven’t decided that I am coming back. I’m just doing a bit of training to get some of the fat off , five stone.”
Fury was due to rematch Klitschko last year, but a combination of injuries and Fury then being declared ‘medically unfit to fight’ meant it was eventually cancelled with Klitschko going on to face Anthony Joshua at Wembley earlier this year.
However, the Lancashire native hinted that there was more to his withdrawal.
“Promoters just want to use boxers as pieces of meat to get as much money as they can out of them and then move onto the next one,” he claimed.
“I don’t roll like that. I do business fairly. I’m the fairest businessman/sportsman on earth.
“I owe nobody even £10 because if I did, I’d pay it. It’s all about loyalty and respect.
“If you break those barriers, we don’t do business again. Too many people have broke those rules, so that’s why I walked away from a minimum of £10m in the rematch with Klitschko. I told them to shove it where the sun don’t shine because I don’t lie with dogs.
“Money isn’t my God, God is. Jesus said: ‘What does it profit to man to gain the world and lose his soul?’ Nothing.
“I’d rather have friendship, loyalty and family to money any day. Not many people these days would say that because everyone wants to be rich and famous.
“They want all the pats on the back and to be told ‘you’re a top bloke’, but where are all those great men and hangers-on today? I didn’t have them at the beginning, at the top or at the end.
“These size 14 boots were inserted in their rear end when they came around. Those who weren’t there at the beginning are never going to get there when I’m at the top.”
Fury was spotted at last year’s European Championships in France in England colours partying with fans and he admits he spent £1000 on a round of drinks including Sambuca and Jager Bombs for all those in the pub.
The flamboyant champion says among fans is where he is at his happiest and can’t understand how some boxers prefer to be shielded from the public.
“I don’t need someone to pat me on the back and tell me I’m a top boxer or a generous bloke or a bastard, whatever they want to say. I already know,” he continued.
“Some people out there need all that. They need 20 bodyguards to take them everywhere. I don’t need all that. I’m a man of the people.
“Why would I want protecting from the people? I fight for the people. Don’t I want to be embraced by them? Touched?
“Who wants someone surrounded by a bodyguard saying you can’t take a picture or this or that. People want a champion they can relate to, someone you can meet in the pub having a drink. Someone you meet in the shopping centre with his wife or with his kids at the park.”
He was more than happy to pose for photos with the young boxers who he trained alongside on Monday with coaches, Ralph McKay and Frankie McCourt helping take him on the pads.
Despite being noticeably out of shape, there was enough there to show the movement, speed and power that saw him win the biggest prize in sport are still there although it will be another Fury, his cousin Hughie, who could be the next from the family to win a world title when he faces Joseph Parker for the WBO strap in Manchester next Saturday (live on You Tube PPV).
“It’s a very close, 50/50 fight,” he predicts.
“I hope he definitely can win, but Parker is a big test. He’s a good man. They’re both unbeaten, both young lads. May the best man win. No hard feelings, it’s just a boxing match.”
Fury always seemed like a man who had no time for the business side of boxing and it is the behind the scenes wheelings and dealings that contributed to his love for the sport waning.
While he is not ruling out a comeback, nor is he promising one and says that if he has boxed for the last time, his career is one he can be rightly proud of having won it all.
“I achieved the utmost in boxing. I became the undisputed heavyweight champion, Ring Magazine ‘Fighter of the Year’, ‘Upset of the Year’ and I beat an 11-year champion (Klitschko) with 25 title defences with nobody giving me a prayer of doing it,” he stressed.
“If that’s not enough in boxing, then nothing will ever be enough. I achieved everything I wanted to do.
“When I achieved it, people started moving the goalposts saying do this and do that, but I didn’t want to do it.
“I became only the second heavyweight champion in history to retire unbeaten behind Rocky Marciano.
“I don’t think there was a lot of politics with me because I told the truth, but people don’t like to be told the truth, they like to be lied to. I’m a straight person who tells it as it. Some people love that and some hate it, but that’s what you do, divide opinions.”