World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury says he will not underestimate Dillian Whyte in their title clash in England this weekend, promising his opponent the “best version of Tyson Fury” as they finally came face-to-face on Wednesday.
The unbeaten Fury, 33, puts his WBC belt on the line on Saturday night at a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London that welcomes 94,000 people – making it one of the highest-attended bouts in British boxing history.
Englishman Fury, whose professional record stands at 31 wins and one draw from 32 fights, has said he plans to retire following the encounter.
Whyte, meanwhile, has waited more than three years for his shot at the belt. The Jamaican-born Londoner, 28-2 as a pro, had snubbed the first pre-fight press conference last month, deciding instead to remain at his training base in Portugal. The mandatory challenger did not show again on Tuesday for the event’s open workouts.
However, sat together on Wednesday for the fight-week pre-event press conference, the pair kept it cordial throughout.
Fury, who goes into the fight as a huge favourite, said: “I think people are underestimating how good a fight this is. I see the [predictions] and laugh at them. This is a heavyweight boxing fight. Anyone can win with one punch.
“If I'm not on my ‘A’ game, he's going to knock my head right off my shoulders. I'll have to be on form to beat him. And he'll have to be at his best to beat me.”
Fury and Whyte, 34, sparred together around a decade ago, when the former says he was preparing to face either David Haye or then-champion Vladimir Klitschko. Both boxers have since provided contradictory accounts of what transpired during the sessions.
On Wednesday, Fury said that the time shared inside the ring would have little bearing on the upcoming bout.
“I don't think you can go on what happened 10 years ago,” Fury said. “We're different versions of ourselves; he's improved and so am I.”
On what Whyte offers, the champion said: "He's a good fighter. A good, strong, solid man. He's big, strong, tough, game, he's got a strong punch on him. He's had a good learning career as well.
"He's got a lot of experience in the fight game. He's definitely a man who needs lots of respect, and that's why I've given him all this training camp.
“I've done everything possible to train for this fight. I've trained as hard for this fight as I did for [former WBC champion Deontay] Wilder, Klitschko or anyone. I'm injury-free and he's fighting the best version of Tyson Fury."
Speaking about finally getting to compete for the heavyweight crown, Whyte said: “It means everything for me to fight in my own country and for the heavyweight title. It’s massive. It's everything I've been waiting for. Like Tyson said, we never expected to be here. But I'm here and I'm ready to rock and roll.
“This is one of those fights where you've got to keep an open mind. It's about being able to adapt and quickly. Fury says one thing and he does another thing. He might decide he wants to fight or box, so I have to keep adapting to whatever he does.
“It's a different challenge, I'll have to be on my 'A' game. But I've worked hard in the gym and I believe in myself. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. I'm that kind of fighter that whatever I've got to do, I'll do. Victory by any means necessary, I'll do that. I'm not scared to take risks.”
The only flashpoint, in fact, came right at the conclusion of the conference, when Fury’s father – John – exchanged heated words with Whyte’s brother Dean.
“Tyson Fury's dad needs to relax,” Dillian Whyte told BT Sport afterwards. “My man's 600 years old, and he's stepping forward, trying not to let my guys get on the stage.
“John was trying to start something. He's stupid because it's a big fight. He's trying to rob 90,000 fans of a fight."