Britain’s Tyson Fury denied he was the “challenger” to heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder as he tried to rile the American by promising to make “lemonade out of a lemon” on Monday.
The two unbeaten boxers will meet for Wilder’s World Boxing Council version of the title in Los Angeles on December 1.
Fury, 30, is the former International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion and remains undefeated in 27 fights.
During a press conference peppered with obscene language at broadcaster BT Sport’s studios, Fury rose from his seat to challenge Wilder to a “body spar” before the pair were separated by security staff.
“I am no challenger for no man. I’m the lineal heavyweight champion of the world, the best of the best,” Fury said. “This is two champions colliding, equal rights.”
Fury thinks of himself as a world champion because he never lost his titles in the ring.
But he lost all his belts, for a variety of reasons, during a two-and-a-half-year absence from the ring after his shock win over former champion Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.
Fury, who struggled with mental health issues, returned to boxing with a farcical stoppage of Sefer Seferi in Manchester in June.
Having once turned up to a pre-fight conference with Klitschko dressed as Batman, Fury was more soberly attired in a three-piece suit on Monday.
But the colourful language that has been a feature of his career was in evidence as he tried to goad Wilder, who has won 39 of his 40 fights by way of knockout.
Fury, asked if he considered having more fights before taking on Wilder, said: “It’s no concern at all. If you are a fighting man, you are a fighting man. If you can fight, you can fight.
“I could have fought 10 bums if I wanted to. He (Wilder) is a lemon, I’m going to squeeze him. I’m going to make lemonade out of this lemon.”
– ‘Baddest man on the planet’ –
But Wilder countered: “When I say I am the best, the baddest man of the planet, I believe every word I say.
“When it comes to Tyson Fury, I am all about devastating knockouts. He knows he’s going to get knocked out.”
“He can whoop, he can holler, but he needs to meditate on his situation because he is going to feel pain like he never felt before,” the 32-year-old added.
Fury suggested Wilder’s camp had only taken the fight because “I’ve had two fights in three years, they think I’m done”.
But Wilder’s managers were adamant they had nothing but admiration for Fury, contrasting his position with their failure to agree a deal with fellow British heavyweight Anthony Joshua.
IBF, WBA and WBO world champion Joshua — who avoids the kind of trash talk that fuels Fury — defended his titles with a brutal seventh-round stoppage of Alexander Povetkin at London’s Wembley Stadium last month.
But Joshua’s camp have so far failed to agree a unification bout with Wilder, the American’s team accusing him of turning his back on a $50 million showdown.
“It’s a long time since the heavyweight division had two champions at the top of their game ready to fight each other,” said US promoter Lou DiBella.
“We spent a lot of time trying to make a fight with another man from this country (Joshua) who didn’t want to fight.”
Shelly Finkel, his business partner, added: “We believe you are the best out there. We have nothing but respect because your countryman didn’t step up. He was presented with a fortune.”
But as for Fury’s chances, Finkel said: “When I was handling Klitschko, I didn’t think he had a chance. He proved me wrong. He’s not going to prove me wrong twice.”
Frank Warren, Fury’s veteran British promoter, said boxing fans were in for a treat.
“This is not cat and mouse, it’s going to be a war.”