Exclusive interview with Peter Fury by Dan Emicus
When Tyson first came to you, his conditioning was sub-par and he was more a good fighter, as opposed to a good boxer. 18 months later and his conditioning has improved dramatically, he’s professional in his approach to fights, has solid boxing fundamentals, and has progressed leaps and bounds technically. How happy are you with his progress and do you expect a similar rate of progress between now and in another 18 months?
I’m delighted with his development and have put in endless hours every day over the last 12 months in particular. Every single area is painstakingly gone through. He is constantly improving technically, as well as in terms of conditioning, and come April we will see another level in Tyson again.
How did you rate Tyson’s performance last time out against Kevin Johnson? On the Channel 5 coverage, you were heard advising Tyson to stick to the gameplan and not allow the crowd to influence his boxing, so were you concerned at that point that Tyson might lose focus and try too hard to ‘entertain’ the crowd with a grandstand finish?
The reason I told Tyson to not pay attention to the crowd was due to the fact he was putting in a brilliant all-round performance and following the game plan. I didn’t want him to listen to the crowd and think that it was a reflection on how he was boxing up to that point. I’m extremely happy with his performance, it was his best to date. He’s learning his craft very well and showed what he can do. I firmly believe that Tyson grew into a world class heavyweight that night!
Tyson will be making his long awaited USA debut in a couple of months. Do you feel the time is right Tyson to introduce himself to the American boxing audience? No opponent confirmed as yet, but rumours are circulating that it might turn out to be Steve “USSC” Cunningham. Hypothetically, if it did turn out to be USSC, what kind of fight would you expect?
Training has been going great, and yes, we are really looking forward to coming to the USA. It’s looking like we have got Cunningham, who I thought did well against Adamek and definitely ‘won’! He’s a very skillful boxer and you have to be a top tier heavyweight to beat him. Ultimately though, I do think that Cunningham is too small be able to succeed at heavyweight. The size of the new generation of heavyweights is phenomenal.
Do you feel that many of those who are critical of Tyson are perhaps to struggling to get over some of the older fights in his career, such as his performances against John McDermott? Do you get the sense that much of the critique is typically obsolete in that sense? How about the non-constructive critique which borders on irrational slander and blatant abuse? Is there just much of this happening, or has it finally settled down? How do you feel about the negative stuff said in general?
Yes, much of the criticism is based entirely on past fights he has had. Fact is, he was just a young guy blasting his way to victory with training methods from the 1920s. The negative stuff pertaining to Tyson’s boxing does not and never will bother me. Everyone has their opinion and I respect that. Even Tyson says things I don’t agree with about fighters sometimes. As for the abuse, its very low class and I believe it’s embarrassing for our country. When I look through Tyson’s Twitter, it’s full of delinquents that believe their insulting remarks are of significance. It’s bad manners and childish.
How disappointed were you about the Boytsov & Chagaev fights not happening? Do you feel Tyson has missed out, or do you feel that right now he is roughly where he would have been anyway in terms of his boxing development, public perception and world rank?
I’m not disappointed at all now. The Boytsov and Chagaev fights never happened, but Tyson is getting the fights I want now regardless and going places just the same way. Public perception is another matter entirely. I think many still don’t see the true potential in Tyson. That’s why I’m excited, as I know what ability he possesses and that time will reveal all.
Would it matter to you and/or Tyson if Vitali were to retire and he ended up winning the WBC title without facing him? How significant is it to fight one of the brothers before they move on from the sport?
I personally don’t mind if Tyson never gets to fight a Klitchko. Saying that, if the fight comes, we would definitely take it. They have done everything in boxing and I believe they are great ambassadors for the sport. Between them they’ve defended the titles year in, year out and most importantly, they’v been consistent. They belong where they are and they will leave behind a great legacy.
What are your thoughts on David Price’s progress? What do you feel Tony Thompson offers as an opponent? Is it true that Thompson was at some point a prospective opponent for Tyson? Were you surprised by Thompson’s claim that “Tyson didn’t want to fight him”?
Price is coming on great and Thompson is a good fight for him at this stage. Yes, it is true that we were previously in contact with Thompson’s people. Mick Hennessy spoke to me regarding that fight. We had Thompson, Johnson and Cunningham on the table. I picked Johnson, as in my opinion he gave Vitali a good fight and looked very durable. Tyson would no longer gain anything by facing Thompson. He’s old and in it for the money, simple as that. I said that I want 50/50 fights from here-on for Tyson and this is why Steve Cunningham is next.
What are your thoughts on the heavyweight division at present? How do you rate the current crop of up and comers, aside from Tyson, such as Pulev, Wilder, Jennings, Helenius, etc. Do you see the division getting exciting post-Klitschkos?
I’ve not really studied the current heavyweights that much, but nothing I’ve seen overly impresses me to be honest. That’s not to say that some prospects might not turn out to be something special in time, but right now, I’m not excited.
Hughie has been wracking up the accolades, but now he is the current reigning World JR Champion! How proud were you when he won it? How is he progressing? How dedicated is he? What kind of potential would you say he has, both as an amateur and one day as a pro? Might Rio 2016 be a possibility for Hughie?
I was very proud when Hughie won that Gold medal. To have the national anthem playing on the podium was just a great feeling for me knowing that my son worked so hard for it. I’m a father and we’re a close family. I’m not embarrassed to say I was choked up, just like I get like when Tyson wins. They’re my blood and I love them more than my own life, so that sums up how proud I am of them. Hughie works like a top class professional, he’s totally dedicated. He lives all year in camp, trains 3 times a day, 12 months of the year. Expect huge things in the years to come as he’s special in every department. As for Rio 2016, Hughie is his own man. If he wants to go to Rio, I will support him, and if he wants to go pro I will do the same.
Any message for supporters?
To all our Team fury fans, we love and respect you. I enjoy the pleasure of getting to interact with you all on Twitter! Thank you for the nice wishes and support. It’s greatly appreciated and I’m honoured.