When Tyson Fury last fought Dereck Chisora, he won a battle of the unbeaten British heavyweights which appeared set to launch his career to the next level.
It was actually the beginning of the end.
He would go on to beat Nicolai Firtha, Neven Pajkic, Martin Rogan, Vinny Maddalone, Kevin Johnson and Steve Cunningham. None of these bouts inspired the fanbase.
Meanwhile, Chisora and David Haye would grab all the headlines with their conduct and subsequent grudge match. ‘Del Boy’ even got the first world title crack in the defeat to Vitali Klitschko which led to the brawl.
Devoid of a nemesis in his own right by David Price’s defeats to Tony Thompson, Fury finally appeared to find that fight, that rival to push him into world title contention, when he signed to fight Haye himself.
When that bout fell through twice due to Haye injuries, Fury announced he’d retired from the sport.
Always one to wind up boxing fans on Twitter, many thought it was more fun and games from the Anglo-Irishman. But, as he told Eurosport in an exclusive interview while in the studio for Wladimir Klitschko’s comfortable win over Alex Leapai, for a few months he really was content to simply walk away.
“I did consider myself retired for a little bit after the David Haye farce,” Fury explained. “It wasn’t just a threat.
"I was retired for around three months, so it was a big retirement,” he joked.
Laid back, articulate and, more importantly, happy, Fury came across as almost a different human being to the man who had spent many months engaging in angry rants on social media over Haye’s continued withdrawals from their fight, among other things.
Did he have a point to prove by returning? Well, no, according to the towering fighter.
“I didn’t particularly feel like I had unfinished business, either,” he said.
“When you train for a fight for a long time and then have two fights cancelled on you which cost you a fortune, it’s not a good game. I’d truly had enough at one point.
“But when you get offered serious money to fight someone you’ve already beaten before, that sounds good to me.”
Now swapping the F-bombs on Twitter for more humane exchanges with his near-200,000 followers, such as discussion over who should next manage Manchester United, this Tyson Fury certainly came across as a far cry from the character people associate with the man ever since that first Chisora fight.
Will everything be different this time around, as he seeks to finally earn the world title shot he feels should have arrived long before he signed on to meet Haye? Not everything, he claims.
“When I first fought Chisora, a lot was made about him being overweight coming in. But he was picked off by the better boxer, regardless of how much he weighed,” he told us.
“He’s a one-paced, one-dimensional fighter and while you cannot underestimate anybody – anything can happen on any night and he has a puncher’s chance with that overhand right of his – I will train right and prepare properly and it will go to plan.”
A second win over Chisora would mark dominance in Fury’s only real domestic rivalry of note that actually made it to the ring. With Carl Froch and George Groves’ grudge capturing the imagination of the nation, does Fury wish he could have found that sort of nemesis before arriving on the world stage?
“It’s a shame there aren’t more domestic rivals around, but it’s not my fault they all fell by the wayside,” he noted.
“You’ve got David Price who was onto a big rivalry with me but he got beat twice by Tony Thompson, you’ve got David Haye who is just a s**thouse who doesn’t want to fight and then there’s Chisora who I’ll fight again in July, who is pretty game but I’ve already beaten.
“I’m waiting for some young guns to come up and try to give me a challenge.
“Anthony Joshua is coming along, but then I’ve got my cousin and my brother to take care of him before he can reach my level. So I’ll leave him to them while I move onto the world stage.”
As those who saw his latest message to Klitschko live on Eurosport 2 on Saturday already know, there is one scalp Fury wants in order to make his second crack at the heavyweight ladder better than his first.
He said: “It’s Wladimir Klitschko I have my sights on, but as I’ve said a hundred million times before, I don’t think he’s going to take a fight with me.
“Even if I became mandatory, I think he would sooner just p**sy out of it, to be honest.”
On why everyone who has harboured similar ambitions has failed to trouble Wlad in recent years, Fury explained: “When the bell rings, their a***holes clench and their plans fall apart before they even start.
“That’s what happened to Haye and it happened to the others, too. Only Chisora, when he fought Vitali, really tried. But when he got close he didn’t do anything.
“There are no good heavyweights to challenge Wlad. But that’s where I come in. If me and him do fight, either he’s going to get hurt or I’m going to get hurt.”
Liam Happe | Follow on Twitter @liamhappe
- Sports & Recreation
- Tyson Fury
- David Haye
- Dereck Chisora
- Wladimir Klitschko
- Vitali Klitschko