Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former two-time heavyweight title challenger Francesco Pianeta faced off on Tuesday in Belfast during the final press conference for their 10-round heavyweight bout this Saturday from Windsor Park. The second comeback fight of the former unified champion will stream live exclusively to U.S. audiences on the SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT (please note new start time). SHOWTIME will air an encore presentation later that evening on SHOWTIME EXTREME® (10 p.m. ET/PT).
The former IBF, WBA and WBO champion Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) returned to the ring in June and will fight for the second time in less than 75 days following a nearly three-year layoff. Prior to his extended hiatus, the 6-foot-9 Fury established himself as the premier heavyweight boxer in the world by becoming the first man to defeat Wladimir Klitschko in more than 11 years.
Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs), a 6-foot-5 southpaw who fights out of Germany, has twice challenged for the heavyweight world title. Pianeta faced then-unified champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2013 and lost in a bid for a secondary title against Ruslan Chagaev in 2015.
Here’s what the fighters had to say at Europa Hotel in Belfast on Tuesday:
“The old Tyson Fury is gone. The Tyson Fury from three years ago and beyond is finished. Let’s face it, we all move forward in life with age and experiences and I’m not looking to dwell on the past. I’m looking to live for today and improve on who I am tomorrow. The new Tyson Fury is here now and my promise is to put on a good fight. Whether that’s better or worse than the old Tyson Fury, we’ll find out on Saturday night.
“What you’re likely to see from me on Saturday is a heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard. Anything less is a failure.
“I do want to win a world title again so I have to raise my game. I’ve been out of the ring for three years nearly. It’s an uphill battle to lose the weight I’ve lost. It’s been challenging and a long, hard battle to get back to where I am.
“I study my heavyweights and I know Francesco has fought some very good men. He had a very good winning spree, he was 28-0 when he fought Klitschko. I’m not underestimating Francesco. I know he’s a very big, strong fellow and he knows if he wins this fight then he can go on to fight (Deontay) Wilder instead of me. It’s all to play for.
“In heavyweight boxing, if you take your eye off the goal for ten seconds you’re out of there. I know what to expect, I expect him to bring his ‘A game’ and he’s going to try to knock me out because that’s what they all do. Hopefully, he’s not successful and we put on a great show and entertain the fans.
“If I come through this, then Wilder has a chance to fight me for the lineal championship. I’m not the one who gets the chance to fight him. Let’s face it, he hasn’t really fought anybody. He has 40 fights and it is what it is. We’re not here to talk about Wilder at all. It may as well be a million years in the future, I’ve got to concentrate on this man in front of me. I’m sure he wants to take my glory away from me.
“I’ve made all the right sacrifices. I trained really well, ate right, slept well and I had four or five sparring partners that were all southpaws. If I do what I think I can do, then I’ll impress, put on a good show and win the fight. If I don’t do what I think I can do, then I’ll get chinned in about ten seconds and it will be, ‘See you later Tyson Fury and hello Francesco Pianeta.’
“Southpaws are a lot more awkward because there’s less of them in the division. You don’t get too much work with southpaws other than when you’re fighting with them. It’s hard to get southpaws to spar in training because there aren’t many heavyweight southpaws around the world. But I do have one interesting fact, every southpaw amateur or professional I’ve ever faced I’ve knocked out. That’s not good for Francesco.
“To be a two-time heavyweight champion is all right. It’s not great because there’s been plenty. To be a three-time heavyweight champion, it’s been done before. So I think I want to set a precedent of being a five-time heavyweight champion without losing a fight. That’s my goal. I always aim for the stars and set big targets.
“If I can beat Francesco Pianeta on Saturday night, I’ve beaten another boxer. Big deal. But if he beats me, he’s going on to something very big. It would be life-changing for him. It I can’t beat Francesco, then I’m going nowhere.
“I think I’m the greatest heavyweight that’s ever been born, so I should handle Francesco Pianeta. And whoever else is out there, Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, all the bums out there.
“It’s very easy to win all the belts back. I’ve only got to beat two bums, basically. Wilder and Joshua and that’s it. They both haven’t got a brain cell between them so it shouldn’t be too hard for a great boxer like myself.”
Ben Davison, Fury’s Trainer
“Everything is good with Tyson. It’s good that he’s getting straight into the ring again. It’s been a good progression since the last fight and everything is perfect. We’re just ready for Saturday night. You can’t do anything more from now.
“He’s lost a good amount of weight since the last fight. To me, there’s only a certain level of fitness that you can get to and Tyson runs on two very good engines anyway. There’s never been any worry with that.”
“I’m going to give my best and I’m looking forward to the fight. It’s an honor for me to box in front of such an audience.
“I have a high opinion on Tyson. I was very impressed with his win over Klitschko, I rate him very highly. He says that he’s knocked out every southpaw he’s ever faced, but we’ll see if he is able to do that Saturday night.”
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