MY boxing life has been made up of two careers.
The first took place between 2008 and 2015, a period in which I was unable to recognise the psychological demons dragging me down.
They pulled on me like a rucksack full of stones, despite the fact I was on my way to becoming the heavyweight champion of the world.
The second career kicked off in 2018 after a brutal battle with my mental health, a war Iâm still locked into today.
Through sheer will I was able to overcome my issues and return as the planetâs most entertaining pugilist.
But then I started to think I should leave the stage while still at the peak of my powers.
While Iâve long been admiral of HMS I Donât Give A Crap, the most entertaining showman since the days of Muhammad Ali and the greatest fighter of my generation, itâs important to know that, as far as Iâm concerned, boxing has always been a business with a shelf life.
Statistically the people that stay in the game for too long have a tendency to get damaged, really damaged, and I donât want that happening to me.
Thereâs also a risk that my career has been shortened by the way in which Iâve lived my life.
Health and nutrition was not exactly a priority for large chunks of my time as a pro: I ballooned in weight between bouts and then, during the mental health breakdown that started in 2015, I boozed, binged and tried cocaine.
There was even an attempt at ending it all a year later when I pointed my Ferrari at a bridge and slammed on the accelerator, though I changed my mind at the last second and pulled Âaway â thank God.
When I eventually asked for help I was diagnosed as bipolar, paranoid and suffering from anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
I later recovered, but my mental health issues remain a constant work in progress â from time to time I can have suicidal thoughts, though I now understand whatâs needed to keep my demons at armâs length.
So while getting my face punched in for a living has put millions of pounds in the bank, a fighter needs to know when their time is Âup â and mine is near.
Walking away from boxing may be the hardest thing I ever do.
All I know is that I donât want to overstay my welcome, ruin my legacy, or die from a big right to the side of the head.
And believe me, an ending like that has felt worryingly real at times.
I even experienced short-Âterm memory loss following that bruising encounter with Wilder in 2021, when, in the hours after the win, my head covered in tennis ball-Âsized lumps, it was impossible to remember how many times Iâd gone down.
Everything was foggy, and the experience frightened me.
No way do I want to end up living out my days in a wheelchair, or eating my dinners through a straw.
After that fight with Wilder, I told my promoter Frank Warren that I planned to retire.
But thenâ¦Bang! he approached me with the opportunity to fight at Wembley Stadium in April 2022.
Wembley was a showcase venue, an opportunity to bow out in style.
And after the hardship and pain of the coronavirus pandemic, I felt I owed it to the fans.
Boxing deserved a hell of a party, and with my triumph over Dillian Whyte, I gave them a showdown for the history books.
I told the world it would take half a billion to drag me back into the ring.
At one point, I was so confident that nobody was going to cough up the cash that I threw down a bet with Piers Morgan on live TV.
He said, âHow about if you do fight again, you have to give me a million pounds?â Piers couldnât believe his luck when I agreed, though I also knew that if there was a Â£500million fight on the cards, I wasnât going to feel that sad about giving him a million of it. (Though heâll get it in pound coins and fivers.)
The other fight Iâve been interested in is a showdown to stop the nation in its tracks.
A match with Anthony Joshua would fall into this category, and in September 2022, I even offered to battle him in the UK with a 60-40 split in earnings.
I wanted it to be a moment in sporting history, a fight for Britain.
But so far we havenât been able to make it happen.
Now Iâm due to fight Derek Chisora on December 3 â having already beaten him twice.
Chisora and I used to be pals but when it came to my Wembley showdown against Dillian Whyte, Chisora tipped the other bloke to knock me out.
I couldnât get my head around that. How can you claim to be someoneâs friend and then back another fighter to send him to the canvas?
I really had no idea what was eating him at the time. Perhaps it was jealousy.
I have a potential meeting with Oleksandr Usyk next year. I donât rate his chances against me either.
Sure, Usyk has beaten AJ twice now, but heâs hardly a killer.
When I do finally retire, thereâs bound to be a void in boxing, in the same way athletics got boring once Usain Bolt had disappeared from the scene â thereâs no one around with the same charisma.
With that in mind, staying on the stage is bloody tempting.
You might be wondering, âWell, hang on, what about those risks you were talking about earlier â the ones that made you consider retirement in the first place?â And sure, a purse is worthless if you die or get seriously injured in the process, but the thing is, I donât plan on doing either of those things. I plan on winning.
- ADAPTED from Gloves Off by Tyson Fury, published by Century on November 10 in hardback and audiobook.
MY PAL ROBBIE
TYSON says heâs not impressed by celebrity but has bonded with stars like Robbie Williams â after he recorded a song on the singerâs Christmas album.
Fury said: âRobbieâs a top bloke and we had plenty in common.
“Robbie and me are both people that have hit the top, having worked hard for something all our lives â him: pop stardom; me: the world heavyweight championship â only for the realities of our success to become massively destructive and very different to what weâd expected at the beginning.â
Tyson said another âgenuineâ person was singer Ed Sheeran, who he met after a gig.
He said: âWe are both very similar in character. Ed is grounded.â
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