As the unbeaten heavyweight champion of the world prepares for a record crowd of 94,000 on Saturday at Wembley Stadium, Tyson Fury has every right to feel he’s above it all.
Except he’s not.
Fury didn’t hesitate earlier this week to revisit the turbulent path he traveled to return to a major bout in Europe, which comes more than six years after he upset former champion Wladimir Klitschko in Germany.
“From where I started all those years ago, to come back from me mental health (battles), being a druggie, an alcoholic,” Fury said during a Wednesday news conference. “I’m not ashamed. It’s part of who I am. To come back from that, to the top of the world and being back in England fighting me old pal Dillian for all the glory and all the belts, we didn’t think we’d be doing that. It’s been a great journey.”
Yet, Fury neglected to fully explain another part of who he is — a fighter who leaned on boxing advisor Daniel Kinahan, the accused Irish cartel leader who was just sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury.
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Since the U.S. Treasury announced a $5 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the accused drug-cartel leader Kinahan and six others, Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) has displayed a glaring blind spot regarding his obligation to fully address his Kinahan connection.
And that disregard continued in the days leading to his big pay-per-view match Saturday against Dillian Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
“I don’t get involved in other peoples’ business,” Fury first told reporters following a Tuesday media workout in England.
When reporters pressed him about his ties to Kinahan, who is now based in Dubai, Fury said: “None of your business. My business is my business.”
Sorry, champ. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t detail a powerful tale of personal recovery and then fail to disavow an accused drug lord.
It is everyone’s business who supports or does business with a man the U.S. government is after and whose personal and financial assets were just frozen by the United Arab Emirates, as reported Thursday by Financial Times.
Kinahan’s MTK Global management company announced Wednesday it is folding due to the fallout of the intense scrutiny from Irish police and the U.S. Treasury. Former ABC and ESPN producer Bob Yalen also resigned as MTK’s CEO.
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“Since leading promoters have now informed us that they will be severing all ties with MTK and will no longer work with our fighters, we have taken the difficult decision to cease operations at the end of this month,” the company said in a statement.
MTK previously represented undisputed 140-pound champion Josh Taylor and recent featherweight title challenger Michael Conlan.
But that’s “none of your business.”
Fury praised Kinahan in 2020 for successfully negotiating a multimillion-dollar deal for Fury to fight then-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The arrangement crumbled when a mediator later ruled Fury needed to honor a trilogy match against Deontay Wilder.
But the time has arrived for Fury to denounce Kinahan.
Fury’s American promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, told Yahoo! Sports last week he paid Kinahan’s company, Hoopoe Sports Agent, $1 million for each of Fury’s four American bouts — including the October trilogy fight against Wilder.
Fury said Kinahan had “no involvement” in the Whyte bout that will be mainly promoted by Fury’s British promoter Frank Warren, who posted a record-high winning purse bid of $41.025 million to stage the bout in late January — nearly $10 million more than the runner-up bid by Whyte’s promoter Matchroom.
I wonder what the U.S. Treasury investigation would find if they “follow the money.”
“If you deal with the individuals who are sanctioned, you are dealing with criminals engaged in drug trafficking … you are involved in a criminal network,” Irish police commissioner Drew Harris said during last week’s news conference announcing sanctions on the Kinahan Organized Crime Group.
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When asked by SkySports if he’ll speak to Kinahan further, Fury’s response was vague.
“He’s not my father, let’s just say that,” Fury said.
The unwillingness to cast further sunshine on the matter is puzzling considering the gravity of the accusations the U.S. Treasury Department made, describing Kinahan as someone running an international cocaine ring, trafficking firearms and directing murder.
“It’s none of my concern and none of my interest at all,” Fury said to SkySports. “It has nothing to do with me. I don’t care. What a man does with his own business, I don’t care. I’m a boxing man. I’m only concerned about what I do. And I don’t do anything except box.”
Asked pointedly if he’d sever all ties with Kinahan, Fury paused and said, “What the U.S. have said, the U.S. have said. We have to listen to the government. That’s what we do. I don’t want to get into trouble with the U.S. government. I haven’t done any business with him in a long time … since 2020. The fight with Joshua didn’t happen, and that was it.
“What Bob Arum does with his own money is his own business, it’s not my concern. … I’m not here to talk politics or religion with you. I’m a boxing man and I’ve got a fight to think about, and that’s enough said.”
He closed the session with SkySports by telling the interviewer it would be the final interview with the network.
He told a group of reporters this week, “I’m just a stupid boxer who gets punched in the face for a living.”
But Fury’s attempt to revert to the charming figure whose rebranding helped sell out Wembley isn’t working here.
He’s already revealed himself as a thoughtful, intelligent individual expected to lean heavily on those smarts to fulfill the Tipico Sportsbook odds that have established him as a -650 favorite to defeat Whyte — and to do so before the oddsmakers’ total of 9.5 rounds.
Fury, 33, told reporters he plans to retire after fighting Whyte, which is a remarkable claim, considering the millions he would generate by winning and staging more super-fights in the heavyweight division he helped revive.
“I know nobody believes me, but money doesn’t mean nothing to me,” Fury said.
Time will reveal all for Fury. And Kinahan.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @pugboxing.