“Who would have thought?” asked Tyson Fury, almost in disbelief. “Even we didn’t think we would do some 90,000 at Wembley.”
Such is the grandeur of Saturday’s WBC world heavyweight title fight against Dillian Whyte, against the backdrop of a record 94,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, that even Fury himself is struggling to handle the enormity of the occasion.
The fight will set the record for the biggest attendance for a fight in the 21st century and the biggest in Europe – quite the setting for these two British boxers.
In recent years, the build-up to some heavyweight fights has been dominated by acrimony between opposing fighters, but this one is quite different.
There is an obvious mutual respect between Fury and Whyte; indeed, during Wednesday’s press conference, Fury alluded to their days together a decade ago, when the couple faced off in training camp fights.
A lot has changed since Fury and Whyte were those fledgling fighters – “a big trip,” as Fury called it – and the two are now the main attraction on one of the biggest nights in boxing history. .
“We didn’t do wrong, did we?” said Fury.
One man who knows the Mancunian well is former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, who helped Fury prepare for Saturday’s fight.
“It’s going to be a tough fight, a good fight,” Parker told CNN Sport. “Both guys prepared really well… someone’s going to get knocked out.”
This “someone”, he specifies, is Whyte. “Tyson is going to knock him out in the middle rounds, between five and nine,” Parker adds confidently.
Heavyweight boxing has been blessed with many memorable fights in recent years, with Fury involved in several of the best, and Parker believes Saturday’s fight is “right up there.”
“He ranks right at the top.” he says. “Obviously the biggest crowd [in Europe] and you have two top heavyweight fighters going head-to-head.
“It’s breaking a lot of records and I think everyone’s excited about the buzz it’s [the fight] obtained.
LILY: “It’s not the best,” says Tyson Fury’s Dillian Whyte
The fight has also generated additional interest as it unfolds against the backdrop of the US State Department offering rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to each of the arrests of three Irish ‘transnational organized criminals’, most notably Daniel Kinahan, who has wielded significant influence in the boxing world in recent years.
Kinahan’s ties to boxing stem from his former ties to agency MTK Global, an organization whose most high-profile client is heavyweight champion Fury. On Wednesday, MTK Global announced that it had ceased operations.
“As a company, we have faced unprecedented levels of unfair scrutiny and criticism since the US government sanctioning of Daniel Joseph Kinahan,” MTK Global said in a statement.
“It is common knowledge that Mr. Kinahan’s involvement with MTK ceased in 2017, and despite repeated assurances in this regard, unsubstantiated allegations regarding his continued association with us and our fighters persist.
“Since major promoters informed us that they would be severing all ties with MTK and no longer working with our fighters, we have made the difficult decision to cease operations at the end of this month.”
Fury has not fought on British soil since his 2018 wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta.
Since then he has fought Deontay Wilder in the United States three times, drawing once and winning twice, to win and then retain the WBC heavyweight title.
It says something of Fury’s magnetism and extraordinary popularity among British boxing fans that the 94,000 tickets for Saturday’s fight sold out within hours when released in March.
The opportunity for tens of thousands of fans to see Fury fight in the flesh was not one they were going to pass up.
In the years since his last fight in Britain, fans have stayed up until the early hours to watch his fights or, in the case of some 20,000 die-hard fans, travel to Las Vegas to see them in person. .
But perhaps the reason this fight has captured the nation’s imagination so much is because it’s looking increasingly likely this will be Fury’s last.
The 33-year-old, having reached the pinnacle of boxing on more than one occasion during his illustrious 14-year professional career, the Manchester-born fighter said he would hang up his gloves after Saturday’s fight.
When Fury first made that statement at the fight reveal press conference in March, most took his words with a pinch of salt. There’s apparently still so much to accomplish for Fury; a highly anticipated British clash against Anthony Joshua or a World Heavyweight Championship unification bout against Oleksandr Usyk after Joshua was dismantled by the Ukrainian in September.
During Tuesday’s open training outside Wembley Stadium, however, Fury reiterated that claim with heightened fervor.
“I know nobody believes me because they all think I’m looking for money or whatever,” Fury told Top Rank. “I’m leaving. I have nothing to prove to anyone, I did what I had to do and that’s it.
“I always intended to walk away and here we are, walking away. The great Julius Caesar once said, ‘There’s always going to be someone else to fight. There’s a million young who arrive.
“You can’t go on forever, just like Wladimir [Klitschko] couldn’t and Joe Louis, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis before me. Every good dog has its day.
Those might not have been Caeser’s exact words, but Fury’s assertion carried a conviction she hadn’t had before.
Additionally, Parker told CNN he thinks Fury is “very sincere” when talking about his impending retirement.
But to say that the anticipation around this fight was solely due to Fury would be doing a disservice to Whyte, who most recognizes him as a dangerous and serious challenger.
Even forgetting his power and skills, Whyte’s hunger alone makes him a formidable foe. This world title opportunity is long overdue – and well deserved – and the 34-year-old is ready to grab it with both hands, with several reports claiming it has been his most intense workout by far. field of his career.
Oddly enough, however, Wednesday’s press conference was the first time these two fighters had come face to face in the build up to this fight. In fact, according to Fury, it was the first time “in years” that they had seen each other in person.
Whyte had declined to participate in any promotional work – even failing to appear at last month’s launch press conference – due to a reported dispute over his share of the scholarship, among other issues.
“There are two sides to every story,” he told gathered media on Wednesday.
“You hear one side a lot because they say a lot of things. ‘Cause I don’t say anything, they say you’re scared or hiding.
However, the London-born fighter says the hype surrounding this fight is as much due to him as it is to Fury.
“Three great fights against Deontay Wilder and none of them have been completely sold out,” Whyte told Sky Sports.
“Tyson Fury isn’t this huge giant superstar everyone says he is, he isn’t. The fight at Wembley is sold out because it’s Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte, not Tyson Fury and somebody. another.
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