Canadian heavyweight boxing champion Neven Pajkic landed in Manchester, England, this week just in time to witness the freak show that is British Commonwealth champion Tyson Fury.
Fury will put his prestigious title on the line Saturday night at Event City in Trafford Park against Toronto’s Pajkic (the fight can be seen live in Canada on Super Channel at 4:45 ET). But for the British fighter, there seems to be much more at stake than just a title.
If Fury loses, his people may want to call a shrink. Immediately.
Fury, who hails from an Irish Traveller family, has been all over the map this week with his pre-fight ramblings, and some of what he has said is somewhat alarming. It actually makes you wonder if he’s fit to be in a professional boxing ring.
One minute he’s congenial and friendly, even toward Pajkic, but then he vowed to “put his fist through the back of Pajkic’s head” and “break his ribs and make them stick out the other side.” But that’s nothing compared to what he told the British media earlier in the week. Basically, he said he’s suicidal.
“One minute I’m happy, over the moon. And the next minute I’m sad — like suicidal sad,” he said. “I feel like getting in my car and running it into a wall at 100 miles an hour.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” Fury added. “I’m messed up. I think I need a psychiatrist. I do believe I am mentally disturbed in some way. I’m just glad I’ve got boxing though, I feel better in the ring. That’s when I feel some relief.”
You might think that Pajkic would be delighted to learn that his opponent for the biggest fight of his life is on the verge of a mental breakdown. But Pajkic, like Fury undefeated in 16 pro fights, isn’t buying into Fury’s mental health missives.
Pajkic believes that Fury, with whom he has feuded outside the ring for years, is putting on a big act — an act his handlers have forced him to undertake to sell tickets. In fact, Pajkic believes the big advantage he has over his 6-foot-9 opponent is that Fury is under huge pressure at home, while he, as the underdog and visitor, goes into the bout with far less pressure.
“It’s all a bull...t act,” said the personable Pajkic, a Serb who was born in Sarajevo and immigrated to Canada in 1996. “They’ll do anything to get him to talk like that. He’s not really scared or anything. But he will be after the first round on Saturday.”
Pajkic, who gives up six inches to his opponent, plans to work inside and take Fury out with combinations to the head and body.
“That’s my forte,” he said, though Pajkic’s real forte is his heart.
And though Pajkic has taken the high road when talking to the media about Fury this week, there is a genuine hate going on between the two, starting when Fury showed up at Casino Rama last year and got into Pajkic’s face after the Toronto fighter fought a preliminary match. Pajkic ended up throwing a dirty ring towel in Fury’s face
He later called Fury “a pancake”. Both have accused the other of being “boring” and “over-rated”. But the winner on Saturday will put himself in line for a high world ranking and possible shot at a world title.
Fury is only 23, and if he keeps it together, has a big future in boxing, win or lose Saturday. But for Pajkic, a loss may be career-ending. He’s 32 and doesn’t plan on becoming just an opponent.
“When I beat Fury, just give me my money and I’m out of here,” said Pajkic on the phone from England. “After that, bring on the Klitschko brothers.”
Pajkic hopes to meet either Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, IBF or IBO world heavyweight titles or Vitali Klitschko for the WBC crown, if he can get past Fury. For his part, Fury said he’ll give up boxing if he loses to Pajkic.
“Even if Neven gives me a tough fight, I’ll retire,” he said.
Given his recent ramblings, perhaps that’s not a bad idea.