Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury II: Are Vegas media commitments sapping fighters?

By Luke ReddyBBC Sport in Las Vegas
Steve Bunce says Deontay Wilder beat Tyson Fury in their final press conference.

"That don't half wear you out".

Those were the words of Tyson Fury after the latest interview huddle conducted in the build-up to Saturday's rematch with WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

There was a lengthy news conference moments later and he was quick to exit before any more media could call on him, although dozens of radio interviews could form part of his task within 24 hours.

The Briton has been conducting media duties since 6 January and there is a concern within his team that he is simply "doing too much".

After Wednesday's news conference BBC Radio 5 Live's Mike Costello concluded both fighters were "at the end of their tether", while his colleague Steve Bunce said Fury's mental sharpness on fight night would consequently have to "suffer".

Fury team concern

It is hard to describe just how much media work Fury and Wilder are doing in Las Vegas in fightweek but they are speaking to written press, radio stations, television broadcasters and YouTube channels, as well as cutting promos for fight night, meeting fans and engaging in pressured news conferences.

Some are already asking if Fury is run down, given what looked like a sore was visible on his lip and he also kept his hood up and sunglasses on throughout the news conference.

On Thursday, the pair are slated to work through 'Radio Row' at the MGM Grand - a gathering of stations from various parts of the world all hunting an interview. There are around 40 stations listed on a poster in the hotel's media room.

Bunce said the prospect of each fighter taking part was "absurd'.

It would follow Wednesday's 50-minute news conference, which in turn came after Fury had conducted one-on-one interviews for around two hours. Both men conducted interviews on Tuesday around a 'hectic grand arrival' ceremony and Fury spent several hours with media on Monday.

"When Ricky Hatton fought Floyd Mayweather one of the last pieces he did before the fight was for BBC Radio 4 and he came and sat at our table and his voice was hoarse by then, after a week of questions day in, day out," added Costello.

"What I got from the news conference on Wednesday was Fury and Wilder were both deflated.

"They were absolutely exhausted. They are at the end of their tether. They have no more words left in their heads. The danger is if they are not sharp mentally, what effect does it have? Especially Fury, the mental part of his game, the thinking part, is so important to what he does."

Bunce replied: "It has to suffer. I looked at Andy Lee on Fury's team and asked is everything OK and he said 'not really, he is doing too much press.'"

'It was a shambles'

Tyson Fury faces the media
Fury kept his hood up and sunglasses on throughout Wednesday's news conference

Requests for time with each fighter are filtered through their teams.

Wilder's team were notably edgy over media access and interview lengths on Tuesday - a stopwatch was deployed. They privately say they learned lessons from the first meeting between the pair and have sought to group media days together, so the fighter speaks to a mass of reporters rather than dealing with each individually.

The team around Fury have also meticulously planned his workload - and he has been commended for repeatedly saying yes to requests - but demand for his time is simply huge.

He has said since signing a fight deal in America his media obligations have hit new levels and he committed to a similarly huge workload for before his September win over Otto Wallin.

The 31-year-old did however turn down the chance to push the fight at the Super Bowl in Miami earlier this month because of the travelling required, so Wilder turned out given it was staged closer to his training base.

Fury instead pushed the fight at a high-profile US college American football event known as the Fiesta Bowl.

After over six weeks of hyping the contest, Wednesday's news conference saw the pair engage in what appeared a rather forced face-off.

The event included advertising breaks, inserts from pundits and highlight reels, creating a show which differed from the more traditional media conferences usually seen in big fight weeks.

By the end of it, Fury appeared fed up and he later said he would be doing no more media before leaving. While the lengthy structure of what had played out was seen as an attempt at something new by the 5 live Boxing team, its duration was questioned.

"I have been around a long time and I have never seen what I saw on that stage," added Bunce. "What happened there was a shambles.

"We are talking here about Fury v Wilder. That didn't need dressing.

"When I walked in today at 11.30, Fury was doing Fox TV. So three hours later he was still on the stage doing a televised news conference.

"When they sat down their voices were sharp, focused and good.

"When they left it was like a marathon 24-hour radio session - they could barely talk. There was no emotion in either of their voices, no humour, no love, no passion - it had all gone."

There is obviously some solace for two men who earned around $10m each for their first fight and are expected to pocket substantially more this time around.

But after Friday's weigh-in, when they finally walk to the ring at around 05:30 GMT on Sunday morning, they may well be relieved to hear the first bell sound to confirm all of the talking - and there has been a lot - is done.

Watch Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury face off in news conference