November 30, 2022

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Fury faces Whyte in all-British heavyweight showdown

Fury faces Whyte in all-British heavyweight showdown

Unbeaten heavyweight champion Tyson Fury prepared to put his WBC crown on the line against former sparring partner Dillian Whyte in a blockbuster all-British bout at Wembley on Saturday.

The self-styled ‘Gypsy King’ was ready for his first fight on UK soil since August 2018, with an expected crowd of 94,000 due to set a post-war British record boxing attendance.

The 33-year-old says the contest will be his last before he hangs up his gloves after a colourful career in and out of the ring.

If he does follow through with his plan to quit, he would spurn the chance to face either Oleksandr Usyk — the current WBA, IBF and WBO champion — or another domestic rival in Anthony Joshua.

Fury held all three of those belts after he beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015.

He weighed in 11 pounds (five kilograms) heavier than Whyte on Friday.

At 264 pounds 13 ounces, Fury is more than 12 pounds lighter than the career-high 277 pounds he registered before knocking out Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas in October.

Fury is odds-on favourite to win at Wembley but insisted he was not “untouchable” as he prepares to shake off a fight week free of animosity and go to “war”.

The British boxer was downed four times in his trilogy against Wilder and also had to rise from the canvas to beat Neven Pajkic in 2011 and Steve Cunningham two years later.

“I’m not sure about all this outboxing — unless I’m Houdini, I can definitely hit them all, for sure, but I’ve definitely been hit before,” said Fury, who has won 31 and drawn one of his 32 fights.

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“I’ve been bounced off the canvas more times than a bouncy ball. I’m not this untouchable boxer everyone thinks I might be. I’m just a normal boxing man who has got lucky 32 times in a row, I think.”

Training partners
Fury and Whyte were training partners on several occasions earlier in their careers.

The pair have been critical towards each other on social media for years but fight week has been remarkably cordial and restrained, and the bonhomie continued at the weigh-in.

“(Whyte is) a decent bloke,” said Fury. “He’s got some morals and we got along like a house on fire in training camps.

“He’s definitely a fearless guy, I’ve sparred him a lot in the past and he didn’t show any weaknesses at all. I’m not going to sit here and slate the fella because I’ve not got anything to slate him on.”

Fury and Whyte, 34, were in playful spirits at the final stare down.

The 206 centimetre-tall (6 feet 9 inches) Fury emphasised his 13 cm height advantage by standing on his tiptoes and Whyte played along by crouching down, with the pair shaking hands, trading baseball caps and sharing wide grins.

They briefly danced on stage alongside one another but Fury was clear the mood would be different when they next meet.

“We’re going to give you a real fight,” he said. “Don’t doubt us, we’re going to put a show on like no other before. It’s going to be a war, don’t worry about that.”

Mandatory challenger Whyte, who was born in Jamaica, has waited years for his world title shot.

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“Nothing is worth this wait, but we are here,” he said. “I’m not someone who really complains or cries about things, but I should have had my title shot at least two years ago.

“I’m two years more seasoned, I have been through ups and down in those two years, so I am more mature as a person and a fighter.”