Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury needed to be separated on Wednesday as tempers boiled over in an explosive final press conference before their heavyweight title showdown Saturday.
WBC champion Wilder and Fury will collide in a high-stakes showdown at the Staples Centre on Saturday which could see the winner advance to a money-spinning unification bout against Britain’s Anthony Joshua.
After trading verbal blows before reporters on Wednesday, the two unbeaten heavyweights engaged in an angry face-off that threatened to erupt into a full-scale brawl.
Fury, the trash-talking “Gypsy King”, appeared to have clearly rattled Wilder, who looked by far the angrier of the two fighters.
The 30-year-old Fury, who has battled back from depression and drug abuse to land his shot against Wilder, opened by stating bluntly he expected to knock out the American champion (40-0, 39 knockouts).
“I’m telling you now, Wilder is getting knocked out by me on Saturday night,” Fury said. “On Saturday night the whole world will know him as the person who Fury knocked out.
“This swagger is not genuine, it’s fake – a snide and a fraud. I look at him and don’t see a bad man, I see a pretender.”
Wilder, however, angrily confronted Fury as the two men faced off on the dais, contrasting the two fighters’ respective heritages in an expletive-laden rant.
“You say your people having been fighting for 200 years? My people have been fighting for 400 years,” Wilder remarked of Fury, who is of Irish traveller descent.
Fury, who laughed and joked throughout, later said he believed he had rattled Wilder.
“He looks very nervous. I didn’t initiate all that. His team are nervous and agitated because they know he’s going to lose,” Fury told reporters.
“He knows he can’t outbox me, so he’s trying to get me all involved emotionally. He feels the need to shout and scream and all that, but it was what it was.”
Fury meanwhile distanced himself from suggestions that Saturday’s clash could carry a racial dimension following Wilder’s comments.
“This is a battle between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. It’s not a battle of races, of cultures.”