Lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury sinks his burly, 6-foot-9-inch frame into the brown leather couch inside the spacious two-story house he’s renting in Southern Highlands, effortlessly shifting between sarcastic and serious as he conducts a slew of phone interviews in advance of his fight with Otto Wallin.
The 31-year-old resident of Lancashire, England, doesn’t seek the proverbial spotlight, but understands it as perhaps the world’s best heavyweight. So he blends loquacious bravado with uncanny sensitivity.
For his own amusement, if for nothing else. Just like he does in the ring.
“I think Tyson is well-rounded,” said his trainer, Ben Davison. “If you want to play mind games, he can play mind games. If you want to keep it relaxed, he can keep it relaxed. But when he needs to turn it on, he can turn it on.”
Like he did during his Las Vegas debut in June. Like he plans to again Saturday.
Fury (28-0-1, 20 knockouts) will face Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena. Fury debuted in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, scoring a second-round technical knockout over then undefeated Tom Schwarz, and since has grown to love the Southern Nevada lifestyle.
So much so that he’s considering buying a home in the valley.
“If you wake up in sunshine, then you’re in a good mood,” said Fury, who would much rather speak about defeating depression than the prospects of defeating his nemesis, Deontay Wilder. “I want to put myself around positivity.”
Fury still marvels at the sights and sounds of the Las Vegas Strip, though this time from his backyard some 12 miles away.
“I think it’s a good place if you’re into drinking, gambling and partying,” he said. “And having nice food and staying in nice hotels and doing nice things and shopping.”
Oh, and boxing.
Fury vowed only to travel to Las Vegas for a fight and spent the better part of two decades mastering his craft in England. He ascended into a top heavyweight in Europe and defeated Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to win the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles before depression triggered almost three years of inactivity.
But he returned triumphantly last summer, fought the vaunted Wilder to a draw in December and pulverized Schwarz in front of a sellout crowd of 9,012.
“The first time, I did everything. I went down the Strip,” he said. “I was going in hotels and shops, the pool parties. All that sort of stuff. The clubs, bars and restaurants. Got it all out of my system.”
Fury didn’t visit any attractions on the Strip during the brunt of his five-week training camp, opting instead for rigorous workouts twice a day and relaxation at his house.
“I’m sitting in the room doing nothing basically,” he said. “I’ll watch a movie or I might not. I’ll just sit there. It’s a very boring lifestyle. Then again, training camp in the life of a boxer is not supposed to be exciting at all.”
Yet, there’s something magnetic about the pursuit of his passion.
He’s not chasing the lore that accompanies the monumental victories, or the hollow materialistic lifestyle he could access on a whim. He’s chasing happiness.
“And this fight game brings happiness to me,” Fury said. “For how long it will continue, I have no idea. But all the time I’m active and I’m well and fit, I’m firing on all cylinders. Then I’m a very happy person. I don’t look for being involved in great fights and being helped off the canvas. (If it happens), it happens. All I do it for is happiness.
“I come away, I train, I fight. I go home, and I become a normal person again.”
But for now, he’s in Las Vegas.
Exactly where he wants to be.
“He has put down a flag because this is the place he wants to fight,” said his promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum. “He’s perfect for this market.”
Who: Tyson Fury (28-0-1, 20 KOs) vs. Otto Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: ESPN Plus
Tickets: Starting at $206 on axs.com
Odds: Fury -2,500; Wallin +1,000 (William Hill)