British heavyweight Tyson Fury takes on Kevin Johnson in Belfast on Saturday, with a view to a world title fight against one of the Klitschko brothers in his next bout. Ahead of the 20th professional bout of his career, he spoke to Orange about his upcoming fight, his British rivals and the sacrifices he makes to get in the ring.
It's been a bit of a challenge to get someone to fight since Dennis Boytsov pulled up. How difficult has it been to prepare?
I'm glad we've finally got someone to fight. A lot of people offered to fight and then pulled out later on so my opponent has kept on changing which is pretty tough. But I've known now it's Johnson for a few weeks now. I'd have liked more time to prepare for him specifically and training accordingly but that's ok as it's the same for him.
How highly do you rate him?
He's a good fighter. I don't go for the easy fights when I can win in three rounds, I want a war. He's taken Vitali Klitschko the distance and I think he's a tougher opponent than Wladimir. It's a big step up for me but I don't think he's ever fought anyone of my size or stature before. And I don't think Vitali throws the combinations and body shots I can.
Is this another step towards a shot at the Klitschkos? I assume that and a shot at the world title is the goal?
I'm the No.4 ranked challenger now in the WBC division but I don't think Vitali's going to fight again. But I want a shot at Wladimir and I think I'll be ready after this fight. So that makes this a must-win for me.
How impressed were you by Wladimir against Mariusz Wach the other weekend?
Not very. He threw a lot of punches didn't he? But he wasn't hit by a lot and he still looked like he'd been beaten up. I'm going to hit him a lot more than he's ever been hit before.
What do you make of the other British heavyweights like David Haye and David Price?
Well, David Haye's out in the jungle doing his thing and that's fine. I know he wants a career on TV and in film and good luck to him but it's not boxing is it? I know a lot of people want to see me fight David Price but I'm doing serious fights and he's taking on old age pensioners like Matt Skelton. When he stops fighting has beens maybe we can talk about a fight.
What is it that makes you tick, that makes you want to step into the ring?
I step into the ring because I want to be known as a good fighter. That's something I've taken every since I was a kid, and it's something I want to fulfil. I was 16 when I first fought and it felt like I was born to do. The moment I stepped into the ring, it felt natural, it felt right. I knew from day one I'd be world heavyweight champion of the world. I've aimed for nothing but the stars and that's still what drives me to get in the ring.
What's a typical training day involved leading up to the fight?
I've done training and conditioning in the morning followed by lunch, a sleep and then about an hour and 20 minutes of running with exercises, coming back for more food and another hour and a half of sparring or training. Basically, my camp's just been sleeping, eating and training.
Is it tough being shut off from your family when preparing for a fight?
Yeah, I've got a wife and two kids, and I haven't seen them for six weeks. My son Prince is too young to understand it at one but my daughter, Venezuela does. When she's on the phone, she knows daddy's training and she always says "when are you coming back?" I know my wife wants me back but she knows it's important, that it gets food in the cupboards and means the bills are paid. But I do miss them. I'm looking forward to spoiling them and taking off the whole of December.
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