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TYSON FURY reached for an axe as his thick beard glistened in the Los Angeles sun. Moments later, the heavyweight claimed he does not yet know how he’s going to beat Deontay Wilder on Saturday night.
But Fury has got a plan in place to fight exclusively in America for the rest of his career, while tackling the homelessness problem on both sides of the Atlantic.
Four days before the two fighters come together at the nearby Staples Center, Wilder and Fury appeared at separate fire stations in old school PR exercises with soundbites and photo opportunities aplenty.
“I win this fight by punching him in the face plenty of times,” said Fury after presenting firefighters with 75 fight tickets at the L.A. County Fire Department Headquarters.
“I don’t know what I will do, I have been accused many times of not knowing what I am doing until I am in there and I agree. I do not know what I am going to do. You plan one thing and you get in there and it all changes. I might have to fight, box, move or go in the trenches. But I am capable of having a fight with anyone in the world and I am capable of out-boxing anyone in the world.”
An hour before, at the LAFD Station 3, Wilder was more forthcoming with his plan of action.
“We don’t speak in negative terms,” said the champion, also donning a firefighter’s axe. “We don’t even put our words in form of negativity. I speak in terms of, ‘I am, I shall. I will’. I will knock Tyson Fury out, there are no ifs and buts about it. There is no way I’m looking at it that it won’t happen. If it doesn’t happen then it wasn’t meant by God, it wasn’t my time. I am feeling very confident, very passionate about what I say and what I do. Come Saturday night it is my time.”
Much of the build-up so far has been playfully toxic yet the fighters today showed off their softer sides. Fury – who has been training in California and here in the City of Angels – spoke of his love for America, how he will defeat Wilder and make his first defence against Dominic Breazeale in “L.A. or Las Vegas”.
“I am very happy I chose California for my training camp, it has really opened my eyes to a lot of things,” he said.
“It has opened my eyes to so many different cultures and things happening. There are a lot of people on the streets here, more than I have ever seen in my life. I stayed in downtown L.A. but if you go just five minutes away there are thousands of people homeless.
“You would think you were in a third-world country, it’s a crisis situation and something needs to be done about it. I know I am just an outsider with an opinion on it and it is a situation happening all over the, especially here in the UK and in the US.”
There have been reports this week that Fury will give his entire purse – believed to be around £8m – to charity.
“When I get home I am going to build some homes for the homeless and set up some funds for drug addicts and alcoholics,” he explained. “I was always going to do it and being here has just given me that extra push to do it.”
According to Fury, this Wilder showdown has been in the making for five years. Following his cousin Hughie Fury’s 2013 win over Shane McPhilbin in Rotherham, Tyson singled out Wilder – in attendance with former gymmate Richard Towers – for praise.
“I met Wilder a long time ago in 2013, face-to-face, but I had followed his story from the very beginning because he is of my era,” Fury explained. “He stood in the corner at the back of the hall and no one knew he was back then – like they still don’t know now. And I told everyone that Deontay Wilder would one day be the heavyweight champion of the world, and I will be too, and we will fight and it will be the biggest fight for a long time.
“Emanuel Steward said in 2012 that he only saw two new names coming through to the top; Tyson Fury and the kid in America, that kid in America no one talks about. He had trained both us of knew how hard it would it be. This is no easy fight for either man, I have trained for the hardest fight of my career and I know Deontay Wilder respects me too.”
With that respect in mind, Fury promised that he will be in the shape of his life for this challenge. Not only that, Fury feels his activity since ending a two-and-a-half year layoff in the summer will help him.
“I know I am as fit and strong as I have ever been,” Fury said. “I stand here an honest person and if I was shot to pieces and only here for the money, I would tell you. I am not here for the money, I am not here for a payday, I am here to win.
“I am as quick and strong as I have ever been, ever. I have never been as fit or as ready for a fight.
“In all of my championship career, I have never gone into a fight with two back-to-back wins in the same year, I have always had massive gaps.
“Even when I beat Klitschko [November 2015] I had boxed Christian Hammer in [as far back as] February. For all of my big fights I have had periods of inactivity [beforehand]. I am going to win this fight one million per cent. I will take the WBC belt back to the UK and then back to the United States when I defend it.”
Fury – who currently weighs “about 257lbs” – is touched by the respect he has received in his new adopted home.
“The awareness here about me has been staggering,” he added. “A lot of people have been coming up and saying ‘I hope you have a good fight champ’. A lot of people just come and talk to me about different things.
“I believe more people in Los Angeles know me ahead of Deontay Wilder. He hasn’t done anything wrong, but I don’t think his promoters have pushed him as much as they could have. He’s 40-0 with 39 KOs and everyone in America should know the heavyweight champion of the world. He’s charismatic, colourful and dresses well and is a knock-out artist, why is he not a superstar in this country? I don’t know.”
Wilder, though, insisted he is a man of the people. Expect both fighters to work hard to sell this fight in the coming days.
“When you are dealing with pay-per-view, you have to do more,” the champion explained. “I am a people’s person which means I can talk to people, react to people. If I wasn’t a people’s person, I would be grumpy, I would be like ‘Ah I’ve got to do this, and I got to talk to these’ but I enjoy people.
“It allows me to be able to react to certain things. Although people getting the perspective of me being really aggressive in the ring, I am the ‘Bronze Bomber’ who has to knock guys out, but outside I’m just Deontay Wilder. I love people, I love to be amongst people. I will talk to a bum on the street and listen. You never know who you will be talking to, you will never know what their life was until this point in time. Everybody has ups, and everybody has downs.”
On Saturday night, Wilder or Fury will experience a new low, a draw withstanding, when they lose for the first time.