At 6-9 and 250 pounds, Tyson Fury clearly has a physical presence. He showed Wednesday that he has a stage presence too. In boxing, the act can be equally as important as the action.
Wednesday's news conference was filled with formalities and pleasantries until Fury closed the show. He spoke candidly and confidently about how he will knock out former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham. Of this, he has no doubt. If this fight at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon lives up to the presser, it's going to be a great show. It will air live on NBC.
"This is a heavyweight vs. a light heavyweight," said Fury. "No disrespect to Steve Cunningham, he's probably the best fighter I've ever faced . . . but I'm retiring you, Steve . . . I hit him, he hits the floor, Tyson Fury hits New York."
He repeatedly guaranteed the media that he was going to knock Cunningham out. He also asked Cunningham's promoter, Kathy Duva, how much it would cost to purchase the space on the bottom of Cunningham's boxing shoes. Fury wants to advertise his Twitter account -- @Tyson_Fury -- on them, because, as he described it, the world-wide TV audience will get a good look at them once Cunningham hits the floor.
To his credit, Cunningham remained calm throughout the spate of insults.
"The guys who talk a lot are chumps," Cunningham said, looking at Fury. "That's not going to help you on April 20. I don't get tired, I get better."
Fury is an Irish fighter who was born in England. He said that his family lineage is traced back to bareknuckle boxers and that his father named him after Mike Tyson. Fury is 20-0 with 14 knockouts, and this bout marks his U.S. debut. New York fight fans may be familiar with him because he knocked out Queens heavyweight Vinny Maddalone in five rounds last July.
Cunningham fought on NBC last December, losing a split decision to fellow former cruiserweight champ Tomasz Adamek in a rousing 12-rounder. (Both Adamek and Cunningham have been campaigning at heavyweight.) Fury said he thought Cunningham deserved the decision against Adamek but said the fight wouldn't prepare him for Saturday because he derisively called Adamek "another blown-up cruiserweight."
"There's not a man 200 pounds on the planet who can beat me," Fury added.
Cunningham, from Philadelphia, is two-time former cruiserweight champion with a 25-5 record. Although he only has 12 knockouts, he's considered a master boxer. His trainer, Naazim Richardson, was in Bernard Hopkins' corner last month when he became the oldest man to win a world title at the Barclays Center.
"I teach my guys to box," said Richardson "Some people don't even understand the art. The art is to swim without getting wet. You have to engage, you don't have to engage from a foolish perspective. Hit and not get hit."