Tyson Fury is refreshingly frank when discussing his chances of challenging the Klitschkos’ heavyweight supremacy right now.
“I’m not ready,” said the man who has unified the British, Commonwealth and English titles in only 15 professional fights. “I’m a novice, Klitschko would knock me out.”
Whether he is referring to Wladimir or Vitali is neither here nor there.
Rather, Fury has bucked his reputation as something of a motormouth to show a side to his character that is in stark contrast to his public image.
The 23-year-old silenced his critics with the nature of his unanimous points win over Dereck Chisora to win the British and Commonwealth belts in July.
But rather than dining out on a fight that saw him become a household name in this country, he has been brutally honest about his immediate prospects.
While talk of a Klitschko clash gathers momentum, Fury insists he still has much to learn before he is ready to step up to that level.
The natural fighter in him would jump at the chance to challenge for a world title so early in his career. But he is also savvy enough to recognise that his time will come.
Instead he says he will try to hone the skills that saw him earmarked as a future world champion before he even turned professional less than three years ago.
“I need to go back to basics and learn how to fight again,” he said. “When I was 14 and 15 I used to fight with 10-punch combinations, now I can’t put two and three combinations together.
“I’m winning fights, but I can’t do what I did before. I was the fastest heavyweight since Mohammad Ali, but I’ve just gone slow, sluggish.
“Big, lumbering heavyweights are hitting me when I used to be able dance around them and put 10, six, 10-combinations together.
“I’m winning because I’m so big, I’ve got a heart to keep going and my chin is all right too. But I’m not winning because of my skill.”
Fury’s frank assessment is a million miles away from the brash character who hurled insults at John McDermott ahead of their English title bout in 2009 and was roundly criticised for claiming he’d ‘kill’ Chisora in the build up to their clash.
He apologised for that incident, later winning more fans with the performance of his career at Wembley Arena with a comprehensive win.
On Saturday he faces American Nicolai Firtha in Belfast, after which, talk is certain to turn to the Klitschkos once more.
While Fury is more than happy to keep his name in the mix with the undisputed heavyweight kings, it is clear he will not be rushed.
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“I want to learn my trade,” he said. “I’m not getting enough time to do it.
“I’m being rushed into big fights and when you are in a big 50-50 fight, you can’t learn your trade because you are fighting to win.
“I can’t go into a fight and practice new things when I’ve got some demon going at me full speed ahead.
“Look at the Klitschos when they’d had 15 fights. For me every fight is a big one. For someone so inexperienced it shouldn’t be like that.
“You’ve only got one career in boxing. Only one life. If I mess it up I can’t say it was anyone else’s fault, I can only say it was my fault.
“I’ve got to stand up and be counted and say this is what I want to do.”
Firtha, who took new WBA champion Alexander Povetkin the distance last December, has stepped in after talks with Martin Rogan broke down.
Fury has already admitted it will be a gamble to take on the US champion at such short notice. And he accepts there will be a number of detractors only too happy to see him fall if Firtha provides a shock.
“It’s not just with boxing, it’s with everything – if you are built up really big, everyone wants to see you fall,” he said. “It’s jealousy. The green-eyed monster takes over.
“If you’re doing well people want to see you do bad. I don’t know why.
“My battery went flat for the amount of people calling me about Breidis Prescott when he knocked out Amir Khan.
“When David Haye was beaten by Carl Thompson everyone loved it as well.
“This country likes to see people get beat. Then when they get beat they love them more than if they were a champion.
“Frank Bruno – a great fighter and great guy – got more respect for losing than winning.
“Ricky Hatton won all those titles and after he lost to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao they took to him even more.”
While Fury is happy to show his softer side, he insists he will continue the bravado that has accompanied his early career.
“I love the showbusiness side of boxing,” he said. “That’s my favourite part of all of it. “The fight night, the stupid things I do in the weigh-in, getting over the top rope dancing with the girls on the way to the ring and playing up to the crowd – it’s an entertainment business.
“I like to do that. Some people might get the wrong idea. But it’s also about time people saw the other side of me, the normal Tyson rather than the showbiz Tyson.
“It’s part of the job. If that’s what it takes to become a boxing star that’s what I’ll have to do.
“It’s one of those things. People either take to you or not. You’re not going to change their mind. But if they’ve got an opinion, if you’re worth talking about, good or bad, it’s not so bad.
“I’m the British champion now so people better start liking me.”