Fury vs Whyte: Tyson Fury Flying Solo, Sells The Show
By Lucy MacDonald
One day late last year I sat and thought to myself “I wonder if I am going to get my free bus pass before Dillian Whyte gets his world title shot?” I am now 24 and sat in Wembley Stadium at today’s press conference, I almost had to pinch myself. One of the most heavily anticipated, long-awaited fights I have ever known as a boxing fan finally has a time, date, and venue. An all-British showdown for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world.
When I got invited to the official press conference, there was only one thing I was absolutely convinced of – that it would be total chaos. I, like everyone else, was hugely disappointed to learn that Dillian Whyte would not be attending the event. However, what we did get was far from disappointing, and that was the Gypsy King show.
The room heard first from Tyson Fury’s promoter, Frank Warren, who described just how immense this occasion is.
“The atmosphere is going to be brilliant. All we need, unfortunately, he is not here today, is the other side of the card to show up. This is huge. This is the largest purse that has ever been paid to British boxers on UK soil.”
So, how did we get here? Frank Warren took to the microphone to describe, in his own words, how we have reached this point.
“The WBC put the fight out for negotiations as the mandatory challenger, we couldn’t agree terms, we went to purse bids, we won the purse bids. We then had to full certain criteria for the purse bids – ticked all the boxes. He then signed the contract, which he left right until the last minute before he put it in, and now he’s trying to renegotiate.”
Queensbury Promotions made a successful purse bid with an astronomical $41million price tag. It was later confirmed that the split would be 80-20 in favour of the defending champion, Tyson Fury. This is where it all gets a bit ugly, as, despite this being his highest-ever payday, Whyte was not satisfied with his side of the finances.
According to Fury, prior to this fight, Whyte’s highest paying appearance saw him walk away with £250,000 in his pocket. Fury asked the room “how many times does 250,000 go into eight million?” This is the GBP figure Whyte will receive from the split. Frank Warren was quick to confirm “Thirty-two times.”
Fury continued, giving his thoughts on the monetary situation.
“Thirty-two times his biggest payday. He should be here today kissing and washing my feet. I don’t know about unfortunate, he’s very lucky that he is in my era.”
The real reasons for Whyte’s absence are not public knowledge. Mind games? Perhaps. Ongoing negotiations? Maybe. Too busy working hard over in Portugal in camp? That would make sense. Fear of ‘losing’ the press conference? There is every chance, particularly when your opponent can talk the talk, the way Fury can. Whyte has proven in the past that he is not afraid of a bit of back and forth in the lead up to a big fight. The fight build-up between these two heavyweights was one of the elements of the match-up that had fans so gripped.
“A fantastic event. I know Dillian Whyte is going to come in prepared. He’s going to come in rugged, rough, game, and aggressive. He’s got a big left-hook and a big right-hand. Who knows, it could be me chinned on the night. I think both fighters are going for the knockout in this fight but, I just think, when I land the Lancashire-bomber on his chin, it’ll be over. That could be in round one and it could be in round six, I don’t see it going past seven.”
As always, Fury was animated, exciting and above all, confident. Without having to throw a single punch, he single-handedly created a space where it felt like, in that moment, the only outcome possible was that he would become victorious. At 33-years-old, undefeated and as talented as he is, of course, that is how it should seem. However, this is heavyweight boxing, and as we see in this division repeatedly, one perfectly landed punch can change everything.
Just before Fury jokingly had a face-off with the bare space in front of him, and Frank Warren amusingly posed as though he was coming between the two men, Fury gave a final few words on what we should expect come fight night.
“You’re going to see a boxing masterclass. You’re going to see the difference in levels. I have to be supremely confident in my own ability and I am. I believe I can beat Dillian Whyte with one hand tied behind my back and one foot off the floor.”
Speaking his mind is something we know to expect from the WBC world heavyweight champion. Despite having admitted to Whyte possessing a big left-hook and right-hand, the nickname that Fury has furnished the Brixton-man with is somewhat discourteous – “Frillian Whyteknickers.” This nickname has been applied as, in his words, “he [Whyte] is as soft as what it says in the title.” An eyebrow-raiser, but you can see what he’s getting at.
As the press conference ended, naturally, I pulled out my phone to assess the fan reaction on Twitter. A saw quite a number of tweets describing what had unfolded as a 10-8 round in Whyte’s favour. “He’s rattled Frank Warren,” some said. “He’s gotten under Tyson Fury’s skin,” said others. “He’s made a big statement,” said a few. It has to be said, from my own perspective, that was most certainly not the energy in the room. In the absence of anyone from Team Whyte, I wanted an opinion from someone who really knew Fury, someone who saw him every day, who knows about his training camp, and how he is feeling ahead of battle. Who better to speak with than former WBO world heavyweight champion, Joseph Parker. As a close friend of Fury who trains alongside him, in readiness for their respective returns to the ring, I knew his thoughts would be very different, but I was eager to hear them.
“Everyone has an opinion and I guess, if that’s what people are saying then fine, they’re entitled to their opinion. I think, just being around Tyson and being around the team, that this will not affect them. He is here today to promote the fight and to promote himself. On the way here, he was saying in the car “this is the Tyson Fury show, it doesn’t matter if Whyte turns up or not.”
It would’ve been nice to see both fighters here, but I am not sure if Whyte’s too busy training or if he’s not happy with the deal. Who knows what the reason is?
But, I think, it is 10-8 to Tyson. Just being here by himself, you know, he’s confident within himself and he’s not shy to say this or say that.
I am not sure what the thinking or the reasoning is behind Whyte not showing up. If it was me, and I think a lot of other fighters will agree, that when you’re offered a fight you have to turn up and promote the fight and show that you’re there for it but I guess his approach is different. It is a very unique approach.”
I asked Parker how much it means to Team Fury to be back on home soil and fighting in front of the UK fans on one of the greatest stages in Europe.
“It is a massive deal for him [Fury]. I think he is very happy to be fighting back here, it’s been four years since he’s fought here as most of his fights have been across the pond. He’s very excited and he is taking this fight very seriously. He’s been training like a mad man for the last few weeks, and I have been training with him, like a mad man myself. The camp has officially started. Yesterday, he moved into another house, and he’s focused on the fight. There are another eight weeks to go, and he is looking forward to not only training hard but looking forward to putting on a great performance for all of those in attendance on fight night. He knows the importance of looking good and putting on the performance of a champion. He says it himself, but I can tell you much he appreciates the love and support he gets from everyone, all around the world, but especially the people here.”
It is inevitable that there will be copious amounts of drama surrounding this fight in the build-up, throughout fight week and on fight night. 23rd April 2022, St Georges Day, live from Wembley Stadium – prepare for carnage.