Are Fury mind games being used on Canelo?

“The fight is off,” we were told just hours before a world heavyweight championship fight in Germany.

Tyson Fury’s father was angrily claiming he would take his son home and cancel his challenge of Wladimir Klitschko because they were unhappy with the sponginess of the ring canvas.

History may be repeating itself – on Tuesday in Texas, Fury’s close ally Billy Joe Saunders threatened to call off this weekend’s fight with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez over a dispute about the size of the ring.

AP - Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez
Image: Canelo is WBA and WBC super-middleweight champion
AP - Billy Joe Saunders
Image: Saunders holds the WBO title

Saunders has claimed that Canelo’s choice to use a ring with dimensions between 16-20ft is not befitting of a world super-middleweight championship unification fight.

“It seems like they are trying a lot of tricks in Texas with him,” Fury said.

“I just want to say; you can try all of the tricks in the world but you won’t beat Billy Joe.

“Play fair, guys. Play fair, now.”

There is now the sensational suggestion that Saunders will fly home and cancel Saturday’s fight rather than give in to this row, even though there is little evidence to suggest the ring size is in any way unusual.

It is a reminder of Fury’s glory in Dusseldorf, Germany, when he tortured Klitschko with mind games before befuddling him when they finally stepped into the ring.

In the days prior Fury found a problem with the gloves, saying: “I mean this: If I don’t fight in the right gloves, then there’s no fight.

“He’s had it all his own way in every single aspect and all I ask is that I’m treated fairly and to wear gloves which fit me, for the sake of my hands.

“I just want a normal glove. I either get the gloves I want or there’s no fight.”

Only after the weigh-in was this particular headache resolved but it created chaos throughout the week.

Explaining the row over the ring canvas before Klitschko vs Fury

The worst was yet to come.

On the Saturday morning of the fight, Fury’s father John erupted and insisted they would fly home when another disagreement began.

Fury claimed that the canvas inside the ring was too soft and was a deliberate ploy by Klitschko to sap energy from his legs.

A two-hour stand-off with every member of both heavyweight’s teams shouting and arguing kicked off. It was surreal and unlike anything the veteran Klitschko had experienced.

“The British Boxing Board of Control, in 44 years, have never seen anything like it,” claimed Fury’s uncle and then-trainer Peter. “So when somebody says that to me, there’s no way Tyson is fighting in that ring.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about winning. He’s not here for a payday.”

Vitali Klitschko, the champion’s brother, was furious and ranted: “It is the same condition. I have 30 years’ experience as a boxer. Never, ever has this been a problem.

“Fury is making a show. He is a showman.”

Fury ended Klitschko's heavyweight title reign
Image: Fury ended Klitschko’s heavyweight title reign

Staggeringly a different problem arose when the fighters and their teams reconvened at the venue in the evening. Fury’s father was irate when he accused Klitschko of wrapping his hands without being supervised.

It is tradition for a member of the opposing team to watch a fighter wrap his hands to mitigate against any antics. John Fury would not budge on this issue and, for the umpteenth time in the week, threatened to call the fight off unless Klitschko backed down.

Eventually (and shockingly) Klitschko relented. He removed his hand wraps and started over. It was a psychological blow.

This expertise may have been passed to Saunders.

How Canelo reacts remains to be seen – he is a calculated, quiet professional accustomed to getting his own way, deserved as the consensus No 1 fighter on the planet.

He will never have dealt with a character like Saunders.

Klitschko had never met anyone like Fury and couldn’t handle himself outside or inside of the ring. The mind games Fury used are now being repeated as Saunders attempts one of the greatest British boxing overseas upsets in modern times.

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