IN his darkest moments, Tyson Fury has found peace and comfort in getting punched in the face.
When daughter Athena, his sixth child, arrived at the start of August, the WBC heavyweight champion thought he would enjoy the moment before jetting off to begin a training camp for his trilogy clash with Deontay Wilder.
Athena had to be resuscitated three times at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool before being taken out of intensive care. Fury eventually felt confident enough to fly out on September 18.
His planned two-month US training stint has been condensed into four weeks, split either side of the Atlantic ocean, with little time to acclimatise or strategise.
But the Gypsy King insists the bumps and bruises his young powerhouse sparring partners have inflicted on him were a treat compared to watching his daughter fight for her life.
Fury, 33, said: “It’s a stressful time, babies and complications. I was very stressed for a while.
“I’ve been able to get back to training and focus on the fight coming up now.
“Boxing is my sport, it is my way of earning a living — and it is a way out of reality for me. It’s almost like a fantasy world, it always has been.
“The real world is your family and providing for them and looking after them and hoping everything goes well with it.
“I’ve never ever taken anything for granted as a boxer. And I’ve always appreciated my position, I’ve always really appreciated who I am and appreciated everything about the game.
“I’ve always loved it, I’ve loved it since I was a little boy and I will love it until my eyes close.
“It’s never been about taking it for granted. I have always enjoyed it.
“Your life can be turned upside down with one flick of a switch. That is why I live for now — and not the future.”
Wilder took such a comprehensive beating in February 2020 that he sacked his head and assistant trainer and accused both Fury and the referee of cheating.
But the American only took up the sport aged 21, while 6ft 9in Traveller Fury was said to be born with clenched fists in a high guard and that gives him the edge, even with most of the physical advantages going against him.
He added: “I’ve been in this game a long time, since I was a little kid. What I don’t know about boxing ain’t worth knowing.
“In this fight especially, I’ve got to do one thing. I don’t need to be the fittest man or fastest runner or the biggest puncher or anything, I just need to be myself.
“I need to relax in there and enjoy it.
“I’m in very good shape and everything is going well. Plus I’ve got everything to live for — and I’m now very happy in my life.
“A happy man is a dangerous man and I feel sorry for Deontay Wilder. I wish I didn’t have to wait to give him a good hiding but unfortunately I do.”