The moment of his boxing career had arrived and Tyson Fury knew that only one thing would see him seize the day — his faith.
To say Fury is a controversial figure in sport would arguably be the understatement of the century. Less than a week into his reign as World heavyweight champion and an online petition of around 30,000 was calling for his name to be withdrawn from the list of candidates for the BBC’s Sports Personality Of The Year award, largely to accusations of homophobia which he strongly refutes.
For all the outbursts, fines and controversies, one constant has been Fury’s insistence he “would be nothing without God” and when it came to facing the overwhelming favourite Wladimir Klitschko at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf for the heavyweight championship, the 27-year-old drew on divine inspiration.
Now, as he scans the heavyweight horizon and those who would seek to dethrone him, Fury says his stay at the summit of World boxing will be like no other.
“You know 99 per cent of people going to Germany to face Klitschko with 50,000 in the arena, all the glitz and glamour and expectation, they find it terrifying and they’re beat before they get in the ring. I stood in the tunnel waiting for the fight and I prayed ‘Lord Jesus give me strength and let your will be done, give me strength to give my best and let your will be done’. When I did that I just said ‘Thank you Jesus’ and I was ready for Klitschko,” revealed the 6ft 9in champion of the world.
“Without God I can do nothing but if God is with me then who can be against me. I’ve had some very tough, depressing times but he has answered my prayers.
“First, my son Prince a couple of years ago was given a 20 per cent chance of living and he survived, then my wife Paris and I were struggling to have children and it got to the point when the doctor suggested IVF treatment and I said no, I said we would pray to God and I found out on the day of the fight Paris was pregnant.
“And a week before the fight I had a really bad cold but I knew that my faith would make me strong and that’s what happened. Against all the odds God gave me the victory and now I am champion my goal is to spread His gospel. And let me make it clear, I don’t hate anybody... no matter what people do, if they repent they will be forgiven.”
While Fury has naturally enjoyed “walking on air” since taking the WBA, IBF and WBO titles from Klitschko — who was making his 20th defence in a nine-year reign — the new king of the world admitted that for all the tactical cunning which worked to perfection over 12 tough rounds, he has still been feeling the scars of battle.
“Klitschko’s called Dr Steel Hammer for a reason and he caught me a flush left hook on the temple that was soft and painful for days afterwards. Anyone else that night would have been given a boxing lesson by Wlad but I had my plan and it worked,” he added.
“Boxing isn’t all about weights and power, it’s about the sweet science and it’s about being mentally ready. Klitschko was mentally beaten before the fight started.
“He could see how confident I was. Look at him before the fight, he’s staring at me all tense and ready to kill me and that’s when his opponents usually fold but I’m there enjoying myself, talking all the time to him and his brother Vitali and he couldn’t handle it.
“To be honest, I think you only saw 60 per cent of what I can do and that’s not being arrogant because anybody who knows me knows that’s not the way I am. I just felt that I could make the fight even easier for myself.
“At the end of the fight I wasn’t worried about the decision going my way because I felt that it was too wide and I don’t think he hit me 10 times the whole fight.”
Victory has taken Fury to the top of the sporting world but he is adamant his legacy will not be one akin to former champions who have seen fortunes come and go.
“For a person without faith, winning the heavyweight title would be the be all and end all, they would go mad with the drinking, the womanising and everything else but that’s not me.
“Those things are nothing compared to my faith in Jesus. The most important thing for me is getting to heaven, that’s it. If I never won another fight, I’ve achieved all I wanted in the boxing ring.”