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Tyson Fury: The 'Gypsy King' of the ring riddled with contradictions

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – While the rest of the boxing world is drooling in anticipation of a genuine heavyweight world title fight that will unify the division for the first time in over 20 years, Tyson Fury insists Saturday's match-up with Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh is all about the money.

"The truth is it's exciting to me and attractive because of the amount of money I'm getting paid," he said this week.

"Not because of the belts that's on the line."

It is true that the self-styled 'Gypsy King' — Fury is the son of Irish Travellers — will earn north, perhaps far north, of $100 million from the fight, but there is a sense that he may just be covering up a little bit.

For Gypsy King read “Contradiction King”.

Fury, now 35, knows well enough what this fight means: a place among the very greats of boxing history.

Going all the way back to Jack Dempsey in the 1920s, only 23 fighters can claim that place in the pantheon: these are great names including Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson.

No one, however, has done it, since another British boxer Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999.

Usyk holds the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO belts while Fury has held the WBC title since 2020.

So is it just about the Saudi gold, pleasant though that be?

"There are so many belts on the line and nothing competes with that," Fury said last month in direct contradiction of this week's soundbite.

"This is the fight of the ages, nothing can compare with this. Not a show fight, not a crossover fight, not YouTube boxing, nothing.

"This is two undefeated world heavyweight championships colliding for all the belts and it hasn't been done since whenever."

Fury's boxing path began at birth in Manchester. Two months premature and weighing in at just 1 lb — he will tip the scales at around 125 kilos for Saturday's fight — Fury had an early scrap to cling on to life itself.

Fury's dad, also a boxer, liked his fighting instinct and gave him the name Tyson. Yes, after Mike Tyson.

He shot up in height — he now stands 2.06 meters (six foot nine inches) — quit school at 11 and focused on the ring.

In 2008, at the age of 20, he made his professional debut stopping Hungarian fighter