Just days from his trilogy fight against Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury sat down with Mark Kriegel in Las Vegas to discuss his mindset ahead of the bout, his expectations from Wilder and his disappointment with Anthony Joshua’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk that derailed the megafight between the two British fighters for all the belts that had been scheduled for 2022.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What have you learned about Deontay Wilder?
What have I learned about him? I’ve learned that he’s an on-top fighter. Do you know what that means?
It means that he’s only happy when he’s in control, when he’s winning, and I’ve learned that he doesn’t like to take punches himself, and I’ve learned that he’s a very fragile mentality as well.
With all these excuses he’s been making. All these stories he’s made up in his own little brain-world. Very, very, very mentally unstable. I didn’t have him down for that type of person. But it always shows you a man’s ingredients when he’s at his lowest point in his career, or in his life.
You’ve learned about him. Do you think that he’s learned anything about himself?
I think so. I think he’s not as unbeatable as he thought he was, once upon a time.
You think he knows that?
He knows that. That’s why he is making these things up in his head that he’s been cheated, and that there’s been some wrongdoings, and skullduggery gone on, and everybody in his camp was involved in it. It’s a tough place to be. I wouldn’t want to be there. I’ve been in some low points in my life with depression and anxiety and all that, but he’s probably in a low place right now himself.
I haven’t heard that from him.
That’s one thing that I’ve been talking about a lot, is acceptance. You have to be able to let go of defeat, of your darkest moments, to be able to recover from them, and I’ve not seen Deontay Wilder do that yet.
Being accused of cheating. How does that make you feel?
I’ve never really paid too much attention to all these accusations because I know it’s coming from an unwell person. When someone is unwell, I don’t believe they can be held accountable for their actions, especially verbal actions, because if he was in his right mind he wouldn’t think like this.
It’s like when I got the draw in California in the first fight, in December 2018. That time, I could have said all the judges were against me, and this, that and whatever. But I didn’t. It was what it was. You get on with it. It’s the manner of person he’s become, with defeat. He’s almost become bitter, with a boxing match. Now, nobody wants to lose, but at the end of the day, there’s always going to be somebody out there who will beat you, no matter who you are. If you stay around long enough, you’ll guarantee to be beaten, sooner or later, and that’s all it is, and you’ve got to accept that.
If you ever did get your ass kicked, you would say, ‘OK, I got my ass kicked.’
We’re built differently. You’ve seen Anthony Joshua recently lose all his belts to Usyk. He didn’t make any excuses. He didn’t cry about it. He didn’t moan about it. He didn’t go on about anything. Same with the Andy Ruiz Jr. knockout. There were a lot of people saying behind the scenes, he was anxious going to the ring, he was depressed — whatever. He never made any excuses, and that in my opinion is a lot, lot different a man than what I’m facing.
Let me reverse it then. Did Joshua lose too easily? Is Joshua too comfortable with defeat?
Yeah, I think he was OK with it because he came to grips with it halfway through the fight — that he was going to lose anyway. But again, there’s a code among fighters. There’s got to be some type of fighter’s code, some type of warrior’s mentality here, not to make a million excuses, and God forbid I ever got beat in a fight, I just shake the man’s hand and say, “fair play, you must be a good fighter. You beat me, good luck to you.”
“I’m just fighting to survive. If you don’t fight in your life, no matter what job you’re in, you’re going to die. That’s it. You’re going to get walked all over. You’re never going to be anybody, or go anywhere, because you didn’t have the guts to fight.”
But that’s the difference again. There wouldn’t be a million reasons why, and even if I had a torn arm and a broken leg and whatever else, I’d never mention it, because I shouldn’t have been in the ring if I didn’t want to fight. If I thought there were a million problems before the fight, I don’t take the fight. Therefore I can’t make any excuses if I lose the fight.
You brought up Joshua and Usyk. I’m reporting every day on the richest heavyweight fight of all time in Saudi Arabia. It’s a done deal: $250 million. How can you avoid being disappointed that that fight isn’t happening?
When the disappointment is out of your hands, then there’s nothing you can actually do about it. It was out of my hands. I had to win my fight, which I’m going to do on Saturday night, and Joshua had to win his fight, which he didn’t do. So was I disappointed? Yes. Am I going to cry about it? No, because what happens then is, when one door closes, another door will open. Out of every negative situation, something positive can happen.
What door opens now?
First of all, I’ve got a tough little door that I’ve got to walk through on Saturday night, and after that, I’ll leave it to these very experienced promotional teams that I’ve got behind me. What Bob Arum don’t know about boxing, probably not worth knowing. Frank Warren, Bob Arum — Hall of Fame promoters — I’m an undefeated world heavyweight champion, I’m sure they can sort something out for me.
Mark Kriegel breaks down the importance of Deontay Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, in his preparation for his trilogy fight against Tyson Fury.
Were you surprised that Usyk defeated Joshua?
Not really. I did an interview saying that I thought that would happen. Joshua ran out of ideas after a few rounds.
Do you hold Wilder in any way personally responsible for pursuing the rematch, or the third fight, when you could have had a much more lucrative fight in Saudi Arabia?
Yeah, when you’ve gone from getting, as you said, the $250 million fight, to now getting whatever he got for his last fight — 5, 10, 15 million. Big difference.
$250 million plus a rematch.
Yeah. He’s cost me a few quid hasn’t he? He has.
Were you surprised that there was no step aside? It never became a real issue?
Yeah, but they did ask me, would I be willing to pay him any money, and I said no, I’d rather smash his face in, again. But there was no real conversations about it.
We’ll see what he can do on Saturday night.
You know the history of the game. I don’t recall a trilogy, certainly not a heavyweight trilogy, where you can make the argument that one party won three times. How difficult is it to get the best of a formidable guy three times in a row? Putting aside the split draw decision.
It’s difficult. There’s a saying, if you play with fire long enough, you’re going to get burned. But I’m not afraid of anything.
I know you’re not afraid, but is he still dangerous?
Of course he is, he’s got 44 fights, 41 knockouts in 42 wins.
Is he more or less dangerous after what happened last time because he had never been beaten like that?
I think he’s like a caged tiger, ready to be unleashed. He’s got nothing to lose. He’s already lost his hope. He can’t go any lower than he can go, and he’s getting paid a lot of money. So, put yourself in his position: People saying why is he taking this fight? He’s probably getting anywhere between 10 and 20 million dollars. Why wouldn’t he take this fight? He’s probably been paid peanuts for fights in the past; I know I have. So why wouldn’t I want to fight somebody for 20 million?
Because fighters, they fear humiliation more than anything.
It’s different. When you’re a prizefighter, you’re an escort. You’re a paid prostitute. You’re not fighting for free, are you? You’re fighting for money, and for the victory, but even when the victory’s gone, they still fight for money. As we’ve seen, time and time again, over the years.
Yeah, but, Tyson, this has been in your family a long time. I understand about the money, your point is correct, but you’re also fighting for glory.
You know what? I’m not really fighting for anything, Mark. That’s the truth. Just fighting to survive. If you said to me now, what do you want, Tyson, off the record, no interviews, just what do I want? My honest answer would be to you, I want nothing. I don’t want anything, because if there was something out there I wanted, then I’d go and get it. But do I want anything? I have no ambitions.
People look at me and ask, “Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that? You have all these Instagram people follow you around, and have camera crews and all that. Why don’t you get into a venture, into a business? Use your name to do this and that.” I’m not interested. I’m not a businessman. I have no interest in business. I have no interest in getting involved in anybody else’s business. I stay in my own lane. I’m just a dumb boxer.
You’re a great fighter, and you know that.
Oh, I’m a great fighter. Take that away from me, I’m just another 6-foot-9 bare bum in the shower.
Deontay Wilder makes a bold prediction for when he faces Tyson Fury for the third time on Oct. 9.
I believe that you want to be remembered for a long, long time.
No, that’s where it’s totally wrong. Because I even said before I beat Wladimir Klitschko, it wasn’t about the belts. Wasn’t about being remembered. I actually fight for crazy reasons. I’m not fighting for glory right now. People say when you make a lot of money, you don’t fight for money anymore. You fight for glory and all that, but I’m honestly not fighting for glory because I don’t care about glory. It’s short-lived, and I ain’t fighting for money. I have to just revert back to the same thing again.
I’m just fighting to survive. If you don’t fight in your life, no matter what job you’re in, you’re going to die. That’s it. You’re going to get walked all over. You’re never going to be anybody, or go anywhere, because you didn’t have the guts to fight. Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, there’s going to be a fight. Someone has to do it, and I’m glad that someone’s me, rather than someone else in my family.
Is there anything Wilder can do from the last fight to this fight? Anything he could have learned to beat you?
Yeah, and the time before that was a boxing lesson. He can always knock me spark out. That’s what he needs to do. Land on me heavy and hope I don’t get back up. That’s how he can beat me. Apart from that, he can’t beat me.
But he can do a better job setting up that right hand.
If he thinks he can, he’s going to try. But it’s hard to do a better job when you’ve got a man 270-plus pounds coming at you, swinging bombs. Every punch I threw in that fight, I tried to take his head straight off his shoulders. I wasn’t trying to touch him; I was trying to get the plumbers out to lift him up off that canvas.
It comes down to mentality, comes down to you and him. It’s not about who trained the hardest or who’s got the hardest punch or who’s got the best boxing ability. It comes down to which man is willing to push further for victory.
When he’s hit, will he revert to being the old Deontay Wilder, or is there something new he can learn?
I don’t know. Even if he’s a much different Wilder than he was the first time or second time, I’ll have to adapt. The difference in me and them is they can’t adapt, where I was born adapting. I’ve always adapted to every different circumstance I’ve ever found myself in.
You going to come in about 270?
Round about the 270 mark.
How does the fight end?
With me punching his face right in.
Tyson Fury labels Deontay Wilder as “garbage” ahead of their third encounter inside the ring.
Does it go the distance? No chance. I’ll stop him again. I’ll smash him. I’ll submit him this time. Like an MMA fighter, I’ll make him quit. I’ll punish him severely. I’m going to really, really damage him.
Who’s going to throw in the towel? They’re under instructions not to.
Then he’ll end up getting severely hurt in the boxing ring, won’t he? And it will be on his trainers and coaches. They’ll have to put it on their conscience.
If you could say something to [former Wilder co-trainer] Mark Breland, what would that be?
Does it end before six, or after?
I don’t know. We’re going to have to see. He might get on his toes and run away for a few rounds. Therefore, if he doesn’t engage, then he’s hard to knock out, isn’t he? Before he came straight at me like that, it was like two bulldozers in a ring meeting, bang. He came trying to knock me out, I tried to knock him out. He got caught, I didn’t. But this time, if he comes out running away, it can prolong the outcome. But sooner or later I’ll get to him, and as soon as I close the distance on him, it’s over.