Tyson Fury declared himself the “greatest heavyweight of my time” after Saturday night’s thrilling victory over Deontay Wilder to defend his World Boxing Council heavyweight title on the Las Vegas Strip.
“I can only beat anyone who is in my day and I’ve been doing this my whole life,” Fury said. “I can only be the best of my day and I did. I am the biggest heavyweight of my time, without a doubt. There is a long, long line of [great champions] and they go straight back to John L Sullivan, Jack Dempsey, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Ken Norton, Joe Frazier, the Klitschko brothers, even today’s guys like Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk and all. the world.
“They are all good champions, but without looking too sharp and smart I would be right at the top of the pile. I believe I could beat anyone in the story. Any born man, I think I have a very good chance of beating him.
After knocking down and nearly finishing the American in the third round in front of a frenzied Vegas crowd, Fury came off the floor twice in the fourth and appeared dangerously close to his first loss in 32 pro fights. When asked what was going on in his mind during the dramatic change of momentum, Fury was on point.
” Not much ! ” he said. “You are going to swim and you are going to get wet. If you play with fire long enough, you will burn yourself. I had three fights with the biggest puncher in the history of my sport, in my division. And he grabbed me. He caught up to me twice in the fourth round. But I never thought, ‘Oh, it’s over.’ I was thinking, ‘Okay, well, but I’ll get you back in a minute.’ And I did.
“I was very aware. I saw the referee do “three, four”. I was still there. He shook me. He put me down. But it is boxing and it is also life. It’s not about how many times you get shot or how many times you lose. It’s about how you can come back, pick yourself up, and keep moving.
The 33-year-old from Manchester became a big favorite after taking Wilder out for almost the entirety of their first meeting, which ended in a contested draw and then scored a seventh round knockout in a rematch at One Way. But Fury insisted the third closest meeting wasn’t about him towering over his opponent.
“It was just a great fight overall,” he said. “That’s what I’m here for. I wasn’t there to knock over someone in one round. I’ve traveled the world for so many years to find challengers and he gave me a really laudable challenge tonight for sure.
He added, “It was seat edge stuff that could have tipped one way or the other. But at the end of the day when I have to collect the tokens, every time I have delivered.
Fury, who was making the first WBC heavyweight title defense he won against Wilder when they met again in February 2020, objected when asked if his future plans included a unification fight with the winner of next year’s rematch between Joshua and Usyk, which last month shocked Joshua to win the other three major belts in the division.
“I just won a well-deserved break from everything,” Fury said. “I was away from my family for six months. Before I start to think about fighting other men, I will rejoice in this victory. Because tonight was one of my biggest victories. I came down from the ground to do it. And I’m the big dog in the division.
“Nothing will ever be easy. If you want something that’s really hard to get, you have to sacrifice yourself, dedicate yourself, and keep pushing, no matter what. And never let anyone say you can’t. Because tonight, once again, I have shown that it is entirely possible to achieve anything you want as long as you believe in it.
“I entered this fight tonight thinking that you can’t do your best in life and whatever is meant, written in the stars for you, will be. And that’s all. I trained hard, dedicated my life and won tonight.
Frank Warren, Fury’s co-promoter, joined a group of observers who said Saturday’s hugely entertaining contest was an instant classic.
“The history of boxing,” said Warren. “This is the best live heavyweight fight I have ever seen. Two warriors in there who gave it their all. My only regret is that the Brits weren’t there too, although the vibe was wonderful… he [Fury] is the unparalleled heavyweight of his generation, bar none. “
Veteran promoter Bob Arum added, “I’ve been in this business for 57 years promoting fights and I really have to say I’ve never seen a heavyweight fight as magnificent as this. And I’m so proud of Tyson Fury, he showed heart, ability. He really is a fighter.