BOLTON, England (AP) — Being heavyweight champion of the world hasn’t changed Tyson Fury much, at least judging by the maverick boxer’s journey back to Britain after beating Wladimir Klitschko.
No private jets for British sport’s new big thing. His near-12-hour journey from Germany involved being driven by his pregnant wife to the Netherlands, followed by a ferry over to England.
No champagne breakfasts, either. He had a bowl of porridge and some fruit on Monday morning before driving in his sandals to a packed-out “Welcome Home” news conference near his home northern town.
“It’s not going to change me. There’ll be no change in the champ,” Fury, who is of Gypsy heritage and says he’s the most charismatic boxer since Muhammad Ali, told The Associated Press in a suite at the stadium of Bolton soccer club as he tucked into some sandwiches.
“Anybody who can be changed by money, and by achievements, is not a realist,” he said. “I don’t feel different today than I was the day before, the day before.”
Many say he needs to change. The 27-year-old Fury has blurted out, or tweeted, some controversial comments in recent times. He said before the Klitschko fight that doping should be legalized in all sports to make it “fully fair.” He was fined 3,000 pounds (around $4,500) in 2012 for a foul-mouthed rant that included branding two fellow English boxers “gay lovers.” In a recent newspaper interview, the fiercely religious Fury was quoted as saying that among the “things that need to be accomplished (changed) before the devil comes home … is homosexuality being legal in countries.”
All that was said when he was largely unknown outside boxing circles. Before he stunned not just boxing but the sporting world by beating Klitschko. Does responsibility come with being in the lofty position of heavyweight champion of the world? Not according to Fury.
“If people don’t like it, change the channel,” said Fury, still sporting a bruise above his right eye from Saturday’s fight. “I won’t be dictated to by anyone. Do I care? Not really.”
Asked if he thought he was a role model to kids, Fury replied: “I’m not bothered, it’s up to them.”
Fury polarizes opinion out of the ring, but there’s general agreement — especially after Saturday’s fight — that the guy can box.
Klitschko hadn’t been beaten in nearly 10 years before he was outsmarted by Fury and lost his WBA, IBF and WBO belts in a unanimous decision. The fight wasn’t a classic, but Fury picked holes in Klitschko and made the long-reigning champion look his 39 years. Fury called it a “masterclass.”
“Put your hands together for the eighth wonder of the world,” barked Fury’s father, John, to reporters and photographers at the news conference. “Get up. Get up and bow. Appreciate what you are seeing, because you haven’t seen anything like this before.”
Tyson Fury, sitting two places away from his father on the top table, laughed out loud.
“I’m not surprised, I’m not overwhelmed, I’ve always said it would happen,” said Fury, who has won all of his 25 professional fights. “I’ve been preaching this for I don’t know how long. For me to go there and bust him like I’ve done, it shows what type of talent I am. Anyone who wants to discredit my performance is pure jealousy.”
The heavyweight division, stagnant for a decade because of the dominance of Klitschko and his older brother Vitali, is suddenly in flux. And the presence of the erratic Fury makes it lively and unmissable.
There is a rematch in the fight contract between Fury and Klitschko, and Peter Fury — the new champion’s trainer and uncle — says a decision will be made by the end of January on whether it goes ahead. Klitschko has suggested he wants to trigger the clause.
Peter Fury said he wants Tyson to dispose of Klitschko again, maybe in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium — England’s national soccer stadium — in May, before turning his attention to a world title unification fight with Deontay Wilder, an American who holds the WBC belt.
“We’re on top of the hill now,” Peter Fury said. “And we’ll get better and stronger all the time.”