By Scoop Malinowski
The first red flag came a couple of weeks ago when Tyson Fury’s sparring partner Jai Opetaia, the cruiserweight champion, suddenly left training camp in Saudi Arabia – or was kicked out – after only five rounds.
And now this week is the second red flag – Johnny Nelson is saying he’s heard from insiders that Fury is getting mauled in sparring.
Tyson Fury has been acting oddly for a long time. First he tried to duck mandatory challenger Dillian Whyte using an array of excuses but Whyte refused to go away. Fury won the fight with a one punch knockout by uppercut, but he did not look impressive. To be frank, Fury has not looked great or even very good since the Klitschko fight almost a decade ago.
Fury also tried to dodge unification with Oleksandr Usyk for over a year. So far, Fury has officially dodged Usyk twice but now the fight is on – because of “strong arguments from Mr. Turki” (Alalshikh), according to Usyk. The implication was that Fury was finally forced into facing Usyk by the money man.
Now with the fight just a couple of weeks away, Fury’s state of mind doesn’t sound sharp or supremely confident. “For me, he was never in the equation. It was always me, [Deontay] Wilder and [Anthony] Joshua and then obviously he beat Joshua so then he took Joshua’s position. Here we are,” Fury told Steve Bunce during TNT’s ‘Gloves are Off’ show. “The belts are one thing but me and him have got to go and fight now. There’s been a big build up and now we’re gonna see who’s better out of me and Oleksandr. And I’m a conqueror. Remember that. He’s Oleksandr and I am ‘The Great’ so we’ll see.”
Is he referencing Alexander the Great?
The confidence of Fury sounds like it has weakened as the fight draws closer: “…It’s a boxing match. If he’s better than me then he’ll beat me. If I’m better than him then I’ll beat him. And that’s it. There’s no more and no less to it,” he said. “I don’t fear a boxing man. I’m not bothered about them at all. I’ve had many fights before and beaten all the people in the world. 35 fights in a row. I’m not really that bothered. I’ve been at this game a long, long time. Professional over 15 years now. He’s an average sized man. He’s 6ft 3in tall. He’s 16 stone. He’s the same build as every other heavyweight that mostly you’re gonna fight. He’s a left-handed man. I’ve got a brother who’s left-handed, my dad’s left-handed so it’s not like I’m not used to fighting people who are left-handed or messing about with them. It is what it is. We’re gonna go in there, punch the —- out of each other. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Did you catch that contradiction? “I’m not bothered at all…” Then the next sentence, “I’m not really that bothered.”
Fury’s mind and thought process are not sound right now. The moment of truth is about to arrive. And he has to fight the man he never expected to have to fight.
Usyk has already surprised Fury be just earning his way to his position as the no. 1 heavyweight.
Now the biggest shock of all may be about to happen.