The tactics he used to get inside heads of Wladimir Klitschko, Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua
Tyson Fury is a unique character in heavyweight boxing.
The undefeated two-time world champion not only specialises in the art of warfare inside the ring, but also thrives off of securing victories during the preamble beforehand.
Mind games are Fury’s domain almost as much as boxing is, with numerous fighters previously falling victim to his antics.
Included in these are long-reigning champions such as Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder.
And it appears the ‘Gypsy King’s’ next target is his domestic rival Anthony Joshua.
During his time as heavyweight king, long-reigning champion Klitschko often recruited the world’s top prospects for sparring.
This was his chance to scope out potential future opponents and get a handle on how he’d deal with them should they ever meet in future.
With Fury though, it appears this process backfired and led to his downfall in Dusseldorf.
When the pair met on Sky Sports’ ‘Gloves Are Off’, the Brit employed mind games of his own.
Fury recalled a story: “I’m at his training camp, we’re in the sauna, about ten guys in the sauna.
“And it came down to me and Wlad in the sauna. Do you remember this Wladimir, at all?
“It gets down to him and I’m over the other side. I’ve only had 12 or 13 fights, but still, in my mind I was mentally in a competition with him.
“He can say what he wants, he can deny it, whatever.
“I was prepared to die in that sauna before I got out. I stayed in for like 40 minutes.”
Klitschko replied: “I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.
“I don’t remember exactly that moment, but I believe in the sauna people were walking in naked, so…”
Host Johnny Nelson then asked Fury who left the sauna first, and the ‘Gypsy King’ proudly answered: “He did. He got out first. I thought, ‘Mental victory.’”
The champion hit back: “That you built in your own world, that didn’t exist.”
To which the challenger calmly responded: “We both know it did exist.”
Klitschko said once more: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
But Fury kept his cool and concluded: “You can say you don’t know what I’m talking about, but I know and you know it did exist.”
This affected Klitschko so much that, in 2020, almost five years on from the defeat, he attempted to clarify the situation.
He said: “I keep reading these disturbing stories about Fury’s recollections of a sauna.
“1) Apparently I was in some contest, in his head. 2) How creepy this man keeps having thoughts/dreams of me in a sauna.”
Regarding the fight itself, Fury later explained: “The day of the fight, I go down to the venue like I do every time, to check the venue out and check the ring out.
“I get in the ring and there’s ten inches of foam in this ring. It was like a memory foam mattress.
“I got on it and I said to my dad and my uncle Peter, ‘I cannot fight in this ring.’ I felt like I was on the moon.
“It’s energy sapping and the thing is that I’m a mover, so he wanted to take the legs away.
“For the first time in a long time he was boxing someone who wasn’t bothered about how much money he was getting, who wasn’t bothered about winning his belts. I was there to win.
“If he’s done that to me, how many people has he done it to over the career? And how many people needed that money and didn’t say anything?
“I was like, ‘I don’t need the fight anyway, so let’s just go home.’
“With an hour left to go there was still no fight on, we were going home. I had my flights planned to leave.
“In the end, Vitali Klitschko said, ‘Take it out.’ And then it was a normal mattress.
“In championship fights a person from the opposite team comes in the changing room and watches you get [your hands] wrapped up.
“Vitali was in my changing room, so we sent my dad to go into his changing room and watch him get wrapped up.
“But by the time my dad’s got there, he’s already wrapped up, bandages on, gloves on, ready to go.
“So dad says, ‘Take them off or we’re going home again.’
“Anyway, my dad stormed out the changing room and had an argument with his manager, he said, ‘Come on, let’s go home, they’re cheating c***s.
“Every single cheat he tried, we pulled him up on it, we made him change and play fair…
“I believe Wladimir Klitschko was already beaten before he got in the ring on the night.
“Watching him walk to the ring, he had the face of a loser straight away because all of his little antics didn’t work. All I had to do was go in there, play my part and win.”
Deontay Wilder I
Fury made a mockery of Wilder at all three pre-fight press conferences, one in the UK, two in America.
He somehow captivated the US audience and branded Wilder with the ‘big dosser’ nickname that the crowd ended up chanting during the fight.
Fury told BT Sport after an explosive confrontation at the third presser: “He come here today to be all cool, calm, collected and make a joke of things.
“But I didn’t come here to joke, I come here to get in his mind and put it right on him and I’ve done that, achieved it on three dates. I’ve won every single competition.
“The mind games are mine, I am the master of the mind.
“He’s following my lead. As a champion himself he should have his own lead, he shouldn’t be following anybody else. But I’ve got him, he’s on the follow, following every move I make.
“If I want him to tap dance I could probably get him to do that.
“He’s got to go to bed every night thinking about this, ‘He’s made a fool of me three times in three press conferences.’
“I know I’m in his mind, he can’t beat me.”
Deontay Wilder II
Once again Fury dominated the press conferences, but also made pre-fight headlines with some deliberately negative publicity.
His cousin and coach Andy Lee told Boxing Social after the fight: “Camp was perfect. There was a couple days where Tyson messed around just to see if leaks would happen.
“Feigned injury or pretended to limp a little bit after a sparring session just to see what would happen.
“That’s the type of level of deviousness you’re dealing with, with him.
“Inside his own training camp he’ll put on a show and play act to see if anyone talks outside the camp…
“Tyson’s the master of mind games. Even when he’s not trying he can do it.
“Tyson’s just played them all the time. It’s all a performance.”
On the night before the rematch, Wilder stated in an Instagram Live stream that he’d heard rumours of Fury suffering an injury in camp, and that his cut from the Otto Wallin fight had come open in sparring.”
Although the AJ fight hasn’t happened yet, Fury is already beginning the mind games.
Before his rematch with Wilder, he had a ‘Nigeria’ mouthguard specially made so he could send a subtle message to his rival (who has Nigerian heritage) during the win.
He’s also been laying down the foundations for several years, publicly backing several of Joshua’s opponents to beat him.
Although Fury has been wrong with every ‘prediction’, it will have undoubtedly had the effect of making AJ believe that his main rival doesn’t think he’s all that good and so doesn’t fear him whatsoever.
The pair also met face to face in Marbella recently, in what was apparently a chance meeting… or was it?
Joshua told Sky Sports: “It wasn’t planned, he was just driving down the strip and I was walking down and we just bumped into each other.
“I don’t know how he saw me because I had my mask on, my hat on and everything.
“He’s obviously got his eye on me. He’s probably following me around.”
We wouldn’t put it past him!