Can Tyson Fury, Britain’s giant gypsy showman, really dethrone Wladimir Klitschko?
Larger-than-life fighter talking a good game ahead of showdown with long-reigning world champion
British heavyweight Tyson Fury, who challenges Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday, is the living embodiment of Mickey O'Neil, the unhinged gypsy boxer played by Brad Pitt in Guy Ritchie's 2000 film 'Snatch'.
Fury's clash with Klitschko, initially slated for October 24, was postponed after the 39-year-old WBA, IBF and WBO title-holder tore a tendon in his calf.
It has given Fury, the 27-year-old showman from the gypsy community with the most evocative name in boxing, an extra month to raise the temperature around the ice-cold Ukrainian.
“You may have fought plenty of peasants in your time, from Poland or wherever, but you've not fought the king of the gypsies before. You're looking at one here,” Fury told Klitschko during a September press conference, having earlier emerged dressed as Batman and staged a fight with an accomplice disguised as Robin.
“You're an old man, you're getting knocked out. I can't wait, I cannot wait for this,” Fury added.
“I'm as confident of winning as waking up in the morning and putting my shoes on. That's how this fight's going to go. A very sharp, easy, simple knockout. I'll put him to bed in the sixth round.”
Cocky, outspoken and shaven-headed, the giant, 6' 9“ (2.06m) Fury is unbeaten in 24 fights, 18 of which have failed to go the distance, and relishes the sense of spectacle that accompanies a fight.
“I'm a Gypsy fighter and that means I will never turn away from a proper fight,” he told The Independent in 2011. “I don't mean a fat idiot on a [travellers'] site somewhere.
“They get a few beers in them and they start thinking they are Tyson or Ali; throwing punches, swearing and jumping around with their big fat bellies. I'd love to knock a few of them out.”
On his roots, he has said: “You are born a traveller. You can't make out you're a traveller just like you can't make out that you are black.
“It's my life and it's what I am and even if I had £10 million, I could still sleep in a caravan.”
Born into a family of Irish Traveller heritage in Wythenshawe in the Manchester suburbs, Fury turned pro in 2008, knocking out Hungary's Bela Gyongyosi in the first round on his debut.
A distant relative of Bartley Gorman, a champion bareknuckle boxer known as the 'King of the Gypsies' who went undefeated between 1972 and 1992, and named after Mike Tyson, Fury was destined for the ring from an early age.
His uncle, Peter, is one of his trainers, while his father, known as Gypsy John, was also a fighter and recently served five years in prison for gouging out a man's eye in a gruesome brawl at a car auction.
Although a born-again Christian, Fury Jnr has a sharp tongue that has landed him in hot water with the boxing authorities on several occasions.
He branded British rival David Haye “a classless prima donna” and “a diva” for postponing their fight in 2013, which was eventually cancelled.
Liverpudlian rival David Price, meanwhile, was described as a “shithouse scouse prick”.
But Fury, who this week called for doping to be legalised across all sport, can also be the butt of his own jokes when his barbs fail to find their intended targets.
Seeking to goad the American Deontay Wilder, AKA 'The Bronze Bomber', last year, he mistakenly tweeted abuse to English women's footballer Lucy Bronze, while footage of him accidentally upper-cutting himself during a 2009 fight with Lee Swaby continues to prove a hit on YouTube.
“I'm big, strong, fast,” says Fury. “I've got good feet. I'm a thinker. I can adapt to any style thrown at me.
“I'm the full package and as Jesus Christ is my saviour, I am the saviour of the heavyweight division. And biggest of all, I can talk.”