World heavyweight champion Tyson Fury said he will need his “A-game” to beat Dillian Whyte on Saturday as the tensions mounted ahead of the bout with his British rival.
Fury and Whyte joined forces to play peacemaker at their final pre-fight press conference on Friday after the champion’s father John and a member of Whyte’s camp became involved in a heated exchange on stage.
The unbeaten Fury is widely expected to retain his WBC title in front of a post-war British record boxing crowd of 94,000 at Wembley.
But, in what he says is the last fight of his career, the 33-year-old has no intention of taking a farewell victory for granted.
“I think everybody is underestimating how good this fight is going to be. I see the odds and laugh at them because they’re obviously coming from people who don’t know boxing,” Fury told reporters on Friday.
“This is a heavyweight boxing fight, anybody can win with one punch. If I’m not on my A-game then that man’s going to knock my head right off my shoulders.
“I’m going to have to be on form to beat him and he will have to perform at his best to beat me. He’s definitely a man that needs a lot of respect and that’s what I’ve given him.
“I’ve done everything I can possibly do to train for this. I’ve trained as hard for Dillian as I have for (Deontay) Wilder or (Wladimir) Klitschko. He’ll be fighting the best Tyson Fury.”
Ahead of Fury’s first on British soil since August 2018, the mutual respect between the champion and his former sparring partner was evident as they shared a handshake after their staredown for photographers.
Mandatory challenger Whyte has waited years for his world title shot.
The Jamaica-born 34-year-old is no stranger to adversity, having been shot and stabbed when he was drawn into London’s gang culture in his youth.
Whyte, who fathered the first of his three children aged 13, has turned his life around through boxing and is relishing the opportunity to fight for a world title.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I’m that kind of fighter where whatever I’ve got to do I will do: it’s victory by any means necessary,” Whyte said.
“It means everything to fight in my home country for the world title. It’s massive. I’m not scared to take risks, I’ve taken risks my whole life so it’s nothing new. I’m ready to rock and roll.”