The lineal heavyweight champion has had his share of ups and downs in recent years, but now he's ready reclaim to his spot atop the division.
On November 28, 2015, Tyson Fury reached the mountaintop. That day, the “Gypsy King” ended the decade-long reign of Wladimir Klitschko, beating him on points to become the lineal heavyweight champion.
Fury prophesied this event to Klitschko five years earlier, when the former was only 22-years-old. Although he had accomplished his stated goal, his happiness didn’t last long.
“It was almost like I didn't have anything more to do in my life,” he explained on the October 25 episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Over the next two years, Fury spiraled out of control as he battled mental health problems and drug and alcohol addiction.
In the summer of 2016, Fury hit rock bottom. The recent purchase of a new Ferrari convertible did little to boost his self-esteem. He got into the vehicle and sped off, approaching 200 miles an hour with the intent of crashing it into a bridge and ending his life.
As he neared the bridge, he heard a voice.
“Don’t do this, Tyson,” the voice said. “Think about your kids. Think about your family and your little boys and girls growing up with no father. And everyone saying your dad was a weak man. He left you. He took the easy way out because he couldn't do anything about it.”
Fury pulled over and told himself he would never try to take his own life again. He sought psychiatric help from a leading doctor in the UK, who deemed him a suicide risk.
Fury didn’t attempt that again, but he still battled internal demons. It wasn’t until Halloween 2017 that things took a drastic turn. A 400-pound Fury dressed as a skeleton and attended a party where he ended up looking like the old man who didn’t belong.
“What am I doing here?” he asked himself. “Is this what you want for your life? This is not me.”
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Fury drove home around and went upstairs into a dark room. He took off his costume and, with tears streaming down his face, begged God to help him. For the first time in years, he thought of boxing. It was time to make a comeback.
Fury called his wife, Paris, and told her he was on a mission to regain the world heavyweight championship. Though she didn’t quite believe him, she heard something different in his voice that day.
Fury decided everything had to change, from his lifestyle to his trainer to his promoter. He called Ben Davison, whom he first met in 2017, when Davison assisted Billy Joe Saunders in preparation for his fight against Willie Monroe Jr.
During that initial meeting, Fury spotted two attractive women walking by. He told Davison that if the trainer could get their phone numbers, he would hire him as his trainer if he returned to boxing. A beaming Davison returned holding both numbers on a slip of paper.
“I hired him for that reason, not just for the hot girls’ phone numbers,” Fury told Rogan. “He was willing to put himself on the line to prove to me he could do something. That takes minerals. If you don’t have any confidence, or any gumption to him, he wouldn’t have gotten that number… It was the best decision I ever made.”
After phoning Davison about his plans to come back, Fury went for a run. He lasted five minutes before running out of breath. While heading home, an Instagram video caught his eye. It was WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, discussing a photo of an out-of-shape Fury that had gone viral. Wilder ended the clip by declaring that Fury was a finished fighter who he would have knocked out at any point in his career.
Wilder also claimed he could have stopped a prime Mike Tyson; the same man Fury was named after. Those comments fueled Fury’s fire. If he ever got the chance, he would make Wilder pay in the ring.
On Dec. 1, Fury can kill two birds with one stone: Make Wilder eat his words and regain the world heavyweight championship. Wilder’s WBC belt will be on the line when the two face off in the main evnet of a Showtime PPV card (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT) live from Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Fury has relied on his belief in God and the support of his family to help him get through a dark and tumultuous period and now has the opportunity to reclaim what was lost. He hasn’t fully kicked the drink, still enjoying a beer or three on occasion. But he believes he’s in a better place now than he’s ever been.
“I think there is a bigger picture,” he told Rogan. “Bigger than winning any titles, bigger than winning any fights. I think my calling card in life is to spread the word on this disease, a silent killer. A killer that's so ferocious, that you can't see it or feel it from the outside.”
Some are concerned that if Fury becomes king of the hill once again, he’ll return to that low place that nearly cost him everything. For now, his focus is solely on beating Wilder. Doing so makes him a two-time world champion, an enormous achievement. But no matter what happens on December 1, Tyson Fury is already a winner.
For a closer look at Wilder vs Fury, check out our fight page.