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Fury slams UFC champ, makes retirement threat

Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com
April 19, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »

It's not a debatable issue, heavyweight contender Tyson Fury is extremely confident. He's also arrogant, saying whatever comes to mind at any given moment, not caring whom it offends.

When it involves fighting, Fury has a lot to say. Though he is undefeated in 20 professional bouts, with 14 knockouts, he does not hold a major title belt. So what? That hasn't prevented him from proclaiming to be the world's best fighter.

"The belts don't mean [anything] to me," Fury told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "I'm the best fighter in the world."

This statement is far-reaching. When Fury speaks of being the best fighter alive, his remarks are not limited to boxers. Fury directs his comments to all combatants. And yes, mixed martial artists are in the equation.

UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez has been squarely in Fury's cross-hairs for a while. He has been targeting Velasquez for several months, but Fury's taunts have yet to ruffle the champion's feathers.

A bout agreement has yet to materialise, but that hasn't stopped Fury from continuing his verbal assault.

"Absolutely, one hundred million per cent," the 24-year-old Fury said of his desire to fight Velasquez. "I've challenged Cain Velasquez to a fight three times. He's a little boy who doesn't want to fight. He said no, live on TV."

Fury participates in a title eliminator bout on Saturday in The Theater at Madison Square Garden against former cruiserweight titlist Steve Cunningham. The victor fills one sanctioning body's vacant No. 2-contender spot.

If Fury continues winning (he's favoured in Saturday's fight), it will be good for boxing in the short term, and possibly the entire fight game down the road. You see, Fury will never be satisfied until he is universally recognised as the best fighter on this planet - including mixed martial artists.

When Fury talks of being the best fighter today, he wants it made clear that Velasquez is part of that mix. There is no merit to proclaiming yourself the best fighter when you haven't fought all the best fighters. Fury is well aware of this fact. It's why just the mention of Velasquez raises his blood pressure.

"I would take Cain Velasquez out," Fury said. "MMA, to me, is bullsh*t. It's for people who can't box and like wrestling on the floor. It's rubbish.

"I'm going to show on Saturday what I'm all about, why I'm this confident and why I'm here to fight."

Fury never minces words, and he isn't one to take shortcuts. Calling out Velasquez, or any MMA heavyweight, will keep him on the hot seat for a long time. But he couldn't care less. Fury always raises the ante.

"I'm going to finish this here and now," he said. "If this man gives me a good fight, I swear on Jesus' name I'm going to retire after the fight. Because I ain't going to be nothing like I say I'm going to be if I can't do a job on this man. I'll retire if I don't stop him.

"If I don't impress with a good performance against this man, I will retire. I'm not going to fight. Game over. I will retire on live TV. I mean it. I'm not here to play games."

That last line isn't directed solely to Cunningham or professional boxers. It's also intended for mixed martial artists, especially Velasquez. Fury is always willing to put up, because he won't shut up until he's considered the best, bar none.

Hopefully Fury will get his chance to face Velasquez. If he continues beating the best boxers, maybe his opportunity to compete in the UFC will come sooner rather than later.

Written by Franklin McNeil. This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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