“The fight is over,” we were told hours before a fight for the heavyweight world championship in Germany.
Tyson Fury’s dad angrily claimed he would bring his son home and cancel his challenge from Wladimir Klitschko because they weren’t happy with the sponginess of the ring’s web.
History may repeat itself – 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 over the ring size.
Saunders claimed Canelo’s choice to use a ring with dimensions between 16 and 20 feet was not suitable for a unification fight for the super middleweight world championship.
“It looks like they’re trying a lot of Texas stuff with him,” Fury said.
“I just want to say: you can try all the tricks in the world but you won’t beat Billy Joe.
“Play it honestly, guys. Play it honestly, now.”
There is now the sensational suggestion that Saunders return home and call off Saturday’s fight rather than give in to that row, although there is little evidence to suggest the ring size is in any way unusual.
It’s a reminder of Fury’s glory in Dusseldorf, Germany, when he tortured Klitschko with mind games before surprising him when they finally entered the ring.
In the previous days, Fury had found a problem with the gloves, saying, “I mean this: if I don’t fight with the right gloves, then there is no fighting.
“He’s done everything his way in every aspect and all I ask is that I be treated fairly and wear gloves that fit, for the sake of my hands.
“I just want a normal glove. Either I get the gloves I want or there is no fight.”
It wasn’t until after the weigh-in that this particular headache was resolved, but it created chaos throughout the week.
The worst was yet to come.
On the Saturday morning of the fight, Fury’s father John broke out and insisted they go home when another disagreement began.
Fury claimed the web inside the ring was too soft and was Klitschko’s deliberate ploy to sap the energy in his legs.
A two-hour showdown with all members of the two heavyweight teams shouting and arguing began. It was surreal and unlike anything veteran Klitschko had experienced.
“The British Boxing Board of Control, in 44 years, has never seen anything like it,” said Fury’s uncle and then coach Peter. “So when someone tells me that, there’s no way Tyson is fighting in this 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 declaimed: “It’s the same condition. I have 30 years of experience as a boxer. Never, never has it been a problem.
“Fury is putting on a show. He’s a showman.”
Surprisingly, a different problem arose when the fighters and their teams reconvened at the scene in the evening. Fury’s father was furious when he accused Klitschko of wrapping his hands without being watched.
It is traditional for a member of the opposing team to watch a fighter shake hands to tone down the antics. John Fury wasn’t moving on this issue and, for the umpteenth time this week, threatened to call off the fight unless Klitschko backed down.
Eventually (and shockingly) Klitschko gave in. He took off his hand bandages and started again. It was a psychological blow.
This expertise may have been passed on to Saunders.
It remains to be seen how Canelo reacts – he is a calculated and calm professional, accustomed to going his own way, deserved as the No.1 consensus 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 him outside or inside the ring. The mind games used by Fury are now being repeated as Saunders attempts one of the biggest upheavals in modern overseas British boxing.