Paul v Fury: Taunts, delays and baby controversies relived as rivals prepare to settle feud

It will be third time lucky for followers of Jake Paul and Tommy Fury on Sunday as their twice-rescheduled bout finally takes place in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, and there are more than a few scores to settle.

Boxing has changed a lot recently, as demonstrated by the sheer interest generated by a fight between a YouTube personality and a Love Island runner-up.

While purists may sneer at Paul's lack of boxing clout and his stated ambition of becoming world champion, the fighters' rivalry has undeniably set tongues wagging.

Their feud can be traced back over two years and involves accusations of faking injuries, interventions from Tyson Fury and pledges from both men to end the other's career.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look back at the taunts, the postponements and the controversies that have marked their rivalry.

March 2021: Tyson throws down the gauntlet

Tommy Fury's all-conquering brother Tyson Fury is often good value on social media, and the Gypsy King got the ball rolling for one of boxing's most talked-about feuds.

After Tommy Fury dispatched Scott Williams, his older brother offered congratulations on Twitter, suggesting Paul – who was gearing up to face former mixed martial artist Ben Askren – as his next opponent.

Paul responded by claiming he didn't know the elder Fury had a brother, but the duo would quickly become familiar with one another.

May-November, 2021: Paul gets personal, bout gets made

After British fighter Fury pledged to face Paul "any time, any place", the American stepped up his taunts and insults.

"Tommy, no one gives a f*** about you if it wasn't for your older brother, who I respect, or your catfish girlfriend [Molly-Mae Hague, a fellow Love Island contestant]," he said. "We all made you famous. You didn't make yourself famous."

Paul then provoked Fury by sharing a message he alleged he had received from Hague, asking him to give her a tour of the United States, which she claimed to be fake.

Paul told Fury to "make the right choice" and sign a deal to face off before the end of 2021, with a bout agreed shortly thereafter.

December 6, 2021: Fury's fitness woes

It's fair to say the reaction to the bout – initially set for Tampa, Florida on December 18, 2021 – was mixed. The prospect of a 'genuine' boxer – even one whose previous victories had largely come against journeymen – stepping into the ring with a YouTuber drew extreme reactions.

While Fury acknowledged he only agreed to the fight for financial reasons, promoter Eddie Hearn said: "If Tommy loses, he should go to a desert island and stay there for life."

With less than a fortnight to go before the fight, a chest infection and a broken rib prompted a "heartbroken" Fury to withdraw, attracting Paul's ire.

"He was scared," Paul said, before knocking down Fury's late replacement Tyron Woodley in the sixth round.

Jake Paul
Jake Paul

June 2022: Madison Square mayhem

Fury returned to the ring to beat Daniel Bocianski in April 2022, but negotiations for a rearranged meeting with Paul rumbled on, with a breakthrough reached in June.

"It's official, I'm taking little Fury's head off," Paul wrote on Twitter as the fight was pencilled in for August 6 at Madison Square Garden.

While Fury avoided fitness issues, the Manchester-born fighter was denied boarding when attempting to travel Stateside, with visa problems causing another postponement.

Referring to Fury as "Tommy Fumbles", Paul accused his opponent of deliberately avoiding the fight. Paul then returned to action in October, recording his most impressive win yet against former UFC champion Anderson Silva.

January 27, 2023: Third time lucky?

"The moment of truth has finally arrived," Paul announced last month. "On February 26, I will get in the ring with a 'real boxer,' and show the world the truth."

With Paul now 6-0 in professional bouts, a deal was finally agreed for him to face Fury in Diriyah.

Englishman Fury was in bullish mood.

"Jake Paul's boxing career ends on February 26 and I can finally move on with mine," Fury declared. "The world is about to see what happens when a proper boxer faces a YouTuber."

Shortly before the bout was confirmed, Tyson Fury weighed in once more. "It's going to be fun, and I expect Tommy to chin him," he said. "If he doesn't, he can stay in Saudi Arabia!"

Jake Paul v Tommy Fury
Jake Paul v Tommy Fury

January 29-30, 2023: Paul's doubts and baby controversy

Despite an agreement being reached for the fight, Paul told BBC Sport he "definitely" harboured doubts as to Fury's willingness to appear.

Paul attracted heavy criticism in the immediate aftermath of the bout being made, after 'announcing' the birth of Fury and Hague's child on Twitter before the couple staged their own reveal.

When Hague posted an image of newborn daughter Bambi on social media, Paul commented: "Just in time to watch your dad get knocked out."

February 23, 2023: 'Double or nothing' deal as foes face off

Despite Paul's doubts, Fury hailed "the best camp of my life" on social media before jetting off to Saudi Arabia last week.

The duo finally came face-to-face at Thursday's press conference, shaking on a "double or nothing" offer from Paul, who suggested Fury should receive no payment if he loses.

Paul and Fury were separated amid a minor fracas as both taunted the other about their previous fights, with the latter sending out a warning.

"This is in my heart, blood and soul, and you're going to feel that," Fury said. "You should have stuck to easy money fighting old men."

For a fight two years in the making with the backdrop of a deeply personal rivalry, the stage is finally set.