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Tyson Fury fights retirement, depression and inner demons: Why life without boxing is the only opponent he can’t beat

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“I feel like boxing missed me. Boxing’s dull without the Gypsy King. Very boring.”

In a recent interview with ESPN ahead of his third fight against Derek Chisora, Tyson Fury tried selling the notion that he’s irreplaceable. But he’s got it wrong.

While boxing may have missed him, he missed boxing a whole lot more. The Gypsy King doesn’t know what to do with idle time. He thought he did until he realized there was nothing else to do. Perhaps of more importance was the idea that all he had was boxing.

Remember that time that Tyson Fury retired and nobody believed him? Fury probably believed it when he said it but the boxing community collectively rolled their eyes at the prospect. His wife, Paris, desperately wanted to believe that her undefeated husband would no longer put himself in harm’s way and spend the rest of his life being a family man. But she knew better. 

WATCH FURY-CHISORA 3: Sign up for ESPN+ (U.S. only)

Why did Tyson Fury retire?

It’s not like he hasn’t been here before. 

When Fury reached the pinnacle of his career in defeating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, he realized that reaching the mountaintop left him feeling empty inside. With no mountains left to climb, he probably thought he would feel fulfilled. Instead, he sank into a deep depression which proved far more challenging than anything inside the ring. Drug and alcohol abuse along with obesity saw Fury depart from the sport that he loved as the fight for his sanity was bigger than any opponent standing across from him. 

Eventually, he overcame his mental demons and the motivation to climb the mountain again became his new focus. Losing the weight and spotting a massive obstacle in Deontay Wilder presented an even bigger challenge that he knew would take time to overcome. But he overcame the odds and found himself right back at the top of the mountain with a pair of knockouts against arguably the biggest puncher in boxing history. However, those dark thoughts that led him down a self destructive path in 2015 became to bubble to the surface again. He addressed it in an interview with BT Sport.

“I really meant retirement and — I swear to God — I couldn’t have been more sure of something in my life,” said Fury. “Without boxing, I just felt like I didn’t have any purpose in my life still.”

Unlike the last time, Fury has recognized that he’s a better person when he’s fighting than when he is not.

“I’m back for more punishment. An idiot, really, but what can we do? I can’t let it go,” Fury said. 

MORE: Tyson Fury vs. Derek Chisora 3 predictions, best bets

“I’ve lived a terrible lifestyle outside of boxing,” he continued. “I have ballooned up in weight and have had so many problems with the boxing game. I’m fighting fire with fire. They say you can’t burn the candle at both ends but I’m in the middle right now. I don’t know how much longer I can continue this for and that’s the brutal and honest truth.”

At least right now it feels like Fury will continue to fight until his body refuses to cooperate. 

It didn’t take long for Fury to begin a bizarre campaign to return to the squared circle as he facetiously challenged the likes of Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk while knowing fights of that magnitude need time to be completed. All the while he had been targeting a return against Chisora, a friend who he has already beaten twice but wouldn’t mind seeing him getting a hefty payday for his troubles. 

NEXT FURY OPPONENTS: Anthony Joshua | Oleksandr Usyk

Nobody asked for Fury-Chisora 3 but it’s happening just so Fury can stay active. Why not get a friend a check in the process? That’s exactly what will happen when he dives back into the sport that has taken a physical toll on him. He can deal with some injuries and ailments. The mental toll of being without boxing has proven to be too much for The Gypsy King to overcome. Life without boxing is the only opponent that Fury hasn’t been able to defeat.

He’s not fighting for money or the acclaim of others. He’s fighting for himself and his sanity. He’s fighting because it’s his purpose. Everything else, including the money, is extracurricular. The art of fighting keeps him going.

Who will Tyson Fury fight next?

It’s likely that he’ll pursue becoming the first undisputed heavyweight champion in the four-belt era to satiate his appetite for a challenge.

He’s expected to throttle Chisora and throw out the challenge to Usyk to unify the IBF, WBO and WBA titles with his WBC championship. In the press conference ahead of the Chisora trilogy fight, Fury promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said as much. 

“I don’t see any reason why the Usyk fight with Tyson Fury can’t be made speedily without much trouble… I know Oleksandr Usyk. I know he wants the fight. I talked with Tyson a little while ago, and he wants the fight. That fight will happen next unless Mr. Chisora lands his punch.”

The motivation to pursue undisputed status should keep Fury busy for the time being. Who knows what challenge he’ll create for himself after that but he’s aware that boxing doesn’t need him as much as he needs boxing. It just sounds better to say it even if he doesn’t really mean it.  

His greatest victory will never take place inside of the boxing ring. Instead, it will be the day that he is comfortable walking away.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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