Tyson Fury’s index finger traced the condensation running down a can of Heineken in the hundred and ten degree heat here.
Then he took a long swig to fortify himself for seeing off critics and conspiracy theorists following the bout of Covid which forced the postponement of his world heavyweight trilogy fight with Deontay Wilder.
‘My first alcoholic beverage since Christmas Day,’ he announced as he slammed the tin on the table. ‘I’ve done pretty much nothing except train my butt off since I smashed Deontay.’
Tyson Fury (right) was forced to delay his trilogy fight against Deontay Wilder (left)
The British heavyweight believes he caught Covid-19 from one of his sparring partners
That was 17 months ago in their first rematch and it will be eleven more weeks out of the ring by the time the Gypsy King and the Bronze Bomber meet again on the Vegas Strip, on the rescheduled date of October 9.
That was also a rebuttal of cynical accusations that he welcomed yet another delay after the already interminable diversions via contract litigation and coronavirus isolation.
‘I couldn’t have been more ready for next Saturday,’ said Fury. ‘After that I’d have been just as ready to knock out Anthony Joshua in December.’
That Battle Of Britain for the undisputed world heavyweight championship feels as if it’s been in the wind since the retirement of Lennox Lewis, the last wearer of all the available belts. Here and now it seems like a mirage evaporating into the Nevada desert.
No-one was more frustrated than Fury with the July 24th cancellation. With the possible exception of Wilder who accused him of being unprofessional and irresponsible.
‘I’m the last person to blame,’ says Fury of the virus which spread through his team. ‘I don’t have a large entourage, unlike most world champions with all their ass-licking hangers on. Since coming back into full time camp I hadn’t been anywhere other than my new house here and the Top Rank gym. Nor had my team.
‘The only people whose movements I couldn’t completely control were my sparring partners, who change. They came in and out of the bubble and everyone knows this town is full of Covid. I suspect we caught it from one of them.’
As for the latest of Deontay Wilder’s allegations against him over the course of their elongated triple head-banger, he says: ‘Mentally he’s a broken man. I destroyed him last time in seven rounds and I will ruin him quicker next time. Inside five. He knows that if we fought ten times I would win ten times.’
Fury dominated Wilder in their second fight and is fully confident of repeating the trick
Then, remembering the drama and controversial scoring the first time they fought for the WBC belt, he roars with laughter and says: ‘Make that win nine, draw one.’
Humour was one of the props which carried Fury through his own struggles against the chronic depression which scarred his own mental health, a story which has been well told. But he is serious again when he says: ‘Deontay is going to need help after I crush him again.’
For the sake of the immediate sanity of them both he will do everything conceivable to prevent a second Covid outbreak from forcing yet another interregnum.
‘There were only ten of us on the team this time,’ he says. ‘But when we go back into camp for a month in England and another month here I will cut us to just four full time. Me, my head trainer SugarHill Steward, his assistant Andy Lee and my old pal Tim who organises my life.
‘We will strictly control the access for sparring partners and increase testing. No masseur. No fitness coach. No dietician. Even my two brothers will have to wait to join me until fight week here in Vegas.
‘I’ve suffered enough frustration on this roller-coaster. I don’t need more, any more than I would have risked anyone else’s health by coming early out of quarantine.’
Fury is concerned about the mental wellbeing of his American opponent if he beats him again
Thus he refutes attacks on social media following his posting of selfies on the Strip when he re-emerged from isolation: ‘I took the advice from the best doctors in America. Everything we did was above board. In fact I went beyond their advice. I stayed isolated for two or three more days than their maximum recommendation.
‘I took the pictures because I was so pleased to be out in the sunshine. Waking up every morning to bright, hot weather has been vital to stabilising my mental health recovery. I’m relieved and grateful that all of us have come through OK during this terrible time when so many people are dying.
‘I’m just happy that I’m alive to go back for the two week break from training I need. To my beautiful pregnant wife, our five kids and another one on the way.’
So never mind, he says, such comparatively minor inconveniences of quarantine as having to miss red carpet outings to collect in person his awards as Boxer of the Year from two major US sports television networks – the ESPYS and ESPN. Not as incongruous as they might seem since the qualifying period was from January 2020 to January 2021.
But he cannot help but wonder why he can be bestowed with those trophies over here, appear twice on the Fighter of the Year cover of Ring Magazine as two-time world heavyweight champion and be voted Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America… without so much as a hint of recognition in his own country where ‘unlike Lewis Hamilton I live and pay taxes which went up to £9 million last year.’
Fury is disappointed that the acclaim he receives in America is not mirrored at home in the UK
Not a flicker in the honours lists either, despite being told that his inspiring mental health campaigns have saved thousands of lives.
He is equally surprised that Amir Khan has been similarly ignored ‘despite reviving British boxing and doing fantastic charity work in both Britain and Pakistan.’
So is Fury angry? ‘No,’ he says. ‘Just disappointed. The way you are when someone close to you lets you down.’
As he is with unsubstantiated claims that the Wilder fight was pulled because of sluggish ticket sales.
‘Deontay and I set a new record for gate revenue for a heavyweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden in our second fight,’ he recalls. ‘We were on the way to doing it again for the T-Mobile Arena, having already sold close to 15,000 of the 19,000 tickets with none of the most expensive ringside seats left.’
As for suggestions that he wanted out of fighting Wilder again, he says: ‘Deontay is the biggest and most dangerous puncher in the world. So although the rest of his boxing isn’t up to much I will never underestimate the dynamite in that equaliser.
‘But SugarHill and I have worked for nine months to prove wrong all those people who say I don’t punch my weight.
‘Unlike Lewis Hamilton I live and pay taxes which went up to £9 million last year’, said Fury
Fury will slim down his backroom team for the training in the build up to his rearranged bout
‘He’s taught me to sit down on my punches and throw all my 6ft 9in into every big shot. So remember that I crushed Wilder like a runaway 18-wheeler before. And realise that at 36 he’s too old to have improved much at all in that time. If anything.’
So what exactly, then, was the Gypsy King’s reaction when first told this fight had to be called off?
He answered by raising himself to his enormous height and leading the staff and customers of one of the Strip’s most renowned steak houses in lusty singing of Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.
‘Love Sinatra,’ he said as he sat down and called for another Heineken. ‘Love that song.’
But the promise is that when we come back in October he will give us a rousing rendition of another classic from the song book of Ol’ Blue Eyes: I Did It My Way.