Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte know each other well from their previous spars (Image: GETTY/Twitter)

Undefeated, Lineal, WBC and Ring Magazine heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury has been keen to play down all talk of previous sparring sessions with Saturday night’s opposite number Dillian Whyte – suggesting it all goes out the window once the first bell sounds at Wembley Stadium. The Gypsy King claims he treated his rival “like family” during their time in camp together up to a decade ago, as the pair prepare to take each other’s heads off when they meet in the middle of the ring in front of a record-breaking 94,000 spectators.

“When we sparred years ago, I think it was about 2011, 2012, whatever,” Fury said on Wednesday. “Sparring is sparring, I think I was preparing for David Haye or Wladimir Klitschko and Dillian came in – along with the rest of the guys that were there – to help me prepare for a fight.

“It’s not about ‘I beat him up or he beat me in a spar’, we were working together. We were good friends together, we went out for a drink, we ate together, we slept together.

“Every person I bring into my training camp, I treat them with respect and like they’re one of my own family.”

Back in 2012, Whyte was invited into camp by Fury, to help him prepare for his Channel 5 clash with Martin Rogan at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast.

He even immersed himself in the gypsy culture by staying on a campsite in Warrington with the likes of Fury and his uncle Peter, who was training him for the fight.

Tyson Fury Dillian Whyte

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte used to spend time together following their sparring sessions (Image: Twitter)

A year later, Whyte would receive the call once again from Fury, this time heading out across the channel and into Europe as the Gypsy King began preparations for a domestic mega-fight with David Haye, on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands.

“I don’t like telling sparring stories, but people in the game know. They know about me. Well, me and Tyson Fury sparred and I bashed him about and dropped him on multiple occasions. Simple as that,” Whyte told Sky Sports in August 2020.

The Body Snatcher has also previously claimed he left Fury ‘sobbing on the canvas’ following a brutal beatdown that allegedly, saw him drop Fury twice in one session.

“He was getting ready to fight David Haye and his trainer at the time was trying to get him to walk me down and pressure me like he would Haye,” Whyte said.

“He was frustrated that day because I kept hitting him, countering him and dropping him. I dropped him twice that day. So he was just frustrated and he was sobbing.

“And then his coach cussed him and said, ‘Listen, if that’s what you’re doing here now, David Haye is going to knock you out so get up and get on with it.’”

Speaking just 10 days out from the biggest fight of his life, Whyte was also prepared to acknowledge that Fury outclassed him during their previous duels, and this time around, he did not declare he dropped his rival…

“Tyson Fury’s never knocked me out and never dropped me,” Whyte told BT Sport. “Ask him about the rest of the sparring. He’s never held his hands up and said: ‘I never knocked him down or dropped him or anything like that.’ But I can hold my hands up and say: ‘Tyson Fury’s never knocked me out, knocked me down, or dropped me ever.’

“There have been times in sparring where he’s outboxed me because I never had no experience. He was a really top amateur when I had no fights; I was learning, I was improving.

“I’m a realist, I got outboxed sometimes, but I put hands on your man – simple as that.”

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte go to war on Saturday night (Image: GETTY)

Fury has previously documented the one-sided nature of his spars with Whyte, who he claims was battered from pillar to post by his younger cousin Hughie.

“I’ve sparred Dillian Whyte many, many times. And every single time I used him as a punching bag,” Fury said.

“There were times when he couldn’t defend himself and there was a time where we had to stop the sparring and Hughie had to spar him, my cousin Hughie instead.

“Hughie was about 18 at the time and he used to batter him. All these stories of him knocking me down 25 times in sparring – highly unlikely anyone believes that rubbish.”

The 33-year-old world champion was also keen to point out that even if he was dropped by Whyte, it would mean next to nothing if they were to climb through the ropes ahead of a real fight.

Tyson Fury Dillian Whyte press conference

Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte were surprise peacemakers at the press conference (Image: GETTY)

He added: “There’s no substance to it, knocking me down umpteen times and all that,” he added. “Just say he did knock me down eight times in sparring, we all know sparring ain’t fighting, is it?

“How many times have you seen people in the gym get absolutely busted up and then on fight night they boxed like Sugar Ray Leonard?

“Sometimes you don’t have good days in the gym, bad days whatever, but sparring ain’t fighting. And just for the record, he never knocked me down once. I’ve never been knocked down in a spar, ever.”

While we may never truly know what happened in camp, it’s time for all the talking to stop. The two heavyweight titans – who are about to serve up one of the biggest fights in British boxing history – will finally get the chance to settle old scores.

Only they will truly know if there are minor or meaningful advantages that can be gained ahead of fight night – from the 100s of rounds of sparring.